September 22, 2012

George Church Will look to Human Genetic outliers and Transgenic sources to improve Humans

George Church, a pioneer in synthetic biology and genomics, is talking about radically altering the genes of humans for improved health, enhanced capabilities and life extension. He is not just just looking at centenarian and supercentenarian (110 years and older humans) genes but transgenic genes. Tortoises live to 180-260 years, bowhead whales up to 210 years, the bi-valve mollusk up to 405 years (but in freezing water).

This is a brief excerpt from his new book Regenesis which he wrote with Ed Regis.

The hydra might not age.


Turritopsisnutricula, a jellyfish might actually get younger.

Those animals and their genes and biology need to be closely studied to see if their tricks could adopted into human genetics.

Regenesis Highlights

George Church has written a new book Regenesis. I have bought it and read it. It is a fantastic book and essential reading for anyone interested in the future of science and humanity. It is like a new Engines of Creation in the boldness of its goals but with near term objectives that already have companies and labs working towards the goals. The author George Church is actively driving much of key research and companies.

George Church has indicated that we are years from successful regeneration and anti-aging. He has also talked about radically altering human DNA on a genomic scale to achieve increased intellectual, health and physical capabilities.

George's work towards a synthetic self replicating self sustaining minimal cell will enable many of the functions of Drexler's assembler. It will be a milestone in synthetic biology that will take it to another level of productivity and capability. The synthetic minimal cell would enable the production of materials tool large or otherwise incompatible with the more elaborate functioning systems of a complex cell. The cell will have all parts controlled and understand by its makers.

First here is what George has done and why when he talks about what can be done with genomics and synthetic biology, he is credible.

Wikipedia - George Church is an American molecular geneticist. He is currently Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT, and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. He's widely regarded as a pioneer in personal genomics and synthetic biology.

With Walter Gilbert he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984 and helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 while he was a Research Scientist at newly formed Biogen Inc. He invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing & software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, (the human pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994.

He initiated the Personal Genome Project (PGP) in 2005, and, in 2007, he founded the U.S. personal genomics company Knome (with Jorge Conde and Sundar Subramaniam). He does research on synthetic biology and is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health (NHGRI) Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard.

He has been advisor to 22 companies, co-founding (with Joseph Jacobson, Jay Keasling, and Drew Endy) Codon Devices, a biotech startup dedicated to synthetic biology, which produces DNA sequences to order. With Chris Somerville, Jay Keasling, Noubar Afeyan, and David Berry he founded LS9, which is focused on biofuels or renewable petroleum technologies.

In 2009 he founded Pathogenica, with Yemi Adesokan, in order to pioneer commercial applications for pathogen sequencing technology.

He has authored and co-authored more than 270 publications and 50 patent

World Economies in 2030

Standard Chartered economic projection to 2030

I do not think India will do quite as well as the Standard Chartered projection.

In 2030, I think Canada with a population of about 44 million and South Korea with about 53 million could be in the bottom of the top ten economies or very close. South Korea could also re-unify with North Korea by 2030.

Projected 2030 economies can easily vary by plus 20% or minus 50% depending upon some country having a lot more problems or very good luck and policies. There is less margin of error for the developed countries like the US, Japan, and Europe

Even with those margin of error levels.
China's economy should be the world's largest by a comfortable margin and possibly twice as big as the USA or India. (50-90 trillion)
India and the USA and the EU-27 should be in the range of the same size in the next tier. (around 20-40 trillion)
Japan, Germany, UK, France, Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, South Korea and Canada will be in the third level. (around 5-10 trillion)

After removing inflation, China would have about $35 trillion in today's dollars and the US would have about 20% more economy than today at $18 trillion.

By 2030, the balance of economic power will have shifted from the West to the East: while the US, the EU and Japan represented 72% of the global economy in 2000, their share should shrink to only 29% by 2030 – a complete reversal of their importance relative to the emerging world.

By 2030 we assume the CNY will have appreciated from 6.64 this year to 4.39, and the INR from 45.5 this year to 35 in 2030.

Faulty boilers caused Indian aircraft carrier's trial snags

Sea trials of an Indian Navy aircraft carrier refitted at a Russian shipyard were unsuccessful due to design failures in the vessel's boilers, a former Russian official has said.

* Russia was giving the aircraft carrier itself for free but India was paying for the refitting and repairs and for $500 million in Russia fighter aircraft
* The project was already delayed by 4 years and now will be delayed 9-12 months
* Russian boilers were damaged when they tried to go at full speed in trials
* Overheating is blamed on not using the asbestos to insulate but on inadequate fire brick
* The Collapse of the Soviet Union and kleptocracy did not maintain key strategic capabilities like being able to make boiler grade steel pipe
* This project looks bad for Russia and India
* China had previously bought a Russian Aircraft carrier but has done the retrofit themselves and is using the Russian aircraft carrier for training purposes and was used to learn how to build and design their domestic aircraft carriers

The ship's handover to the Indian Navy was put back from December 2012 to at least October 2013 after propulsion failures occurred when the INS Vikramaditya - formerly the Russian Navy's Admiral Gorshkov - underwent sea trials in the White Sea last month.

Oleg Shulyakovsky, former director of Baltisky Shipyard, told Russia's Vedomosti daily Tuesday that three of the carrier's eight boilers failed, but the ship still managed to stay underway and reached 23 knots, below its design speed of 29 knots.

He said boiler failures were a legacy of the original vessel's design, with propulsion snags being a persistent feature of the four Project 1143 carriers built in the Soviet Union in the 1970s.

The carrier's boilers lasted just 20 percent of the design life stated by their makers, he said.

The replacement boilers installed as part of the vessel's $2.3 billion refit were guaranteed for just 10 months, which expired before the ship took to sea.

2017 will have 50% using the Internet once per month and 85% with 3G or 4G mobile

In a recently published Forrester ForecastView report titled “Forrester Research World Online Population Forecast, 2012 To 2017 (Global),” Forrester found that 2.4 billion people across the world use the Internet on a regular basis — i.e., at least once a month — from home, school, work, or any other location via a PC or a non-PC (mobile) Internet access device. This is expected to grow to 3.5 billion by 2017, representing nearly half of the 2017 overall world population of 7.4 billion.

As we move toward 2017, most of the laggard countries will move up the curve as Net access becomes more pervasive. The speed at which a particular country moves up the curve will depend on a number of factors, such as:

* The affordability of Internet services or Internet access devices.
* The education/skills of the users.
* The interest/motivation of the users.
* Internet connectivity (i.e., fixed broadband and mobile).
* The country’s infrastructure (i.e., telephone lines and international bandwidth).
* The government’s vision of the country’s digital future and related policies.

Ericsson released its second Traffic and Market Report - On the Pulse of the Networked Society
Ericsson predicts - by 2017, 85 percent of the world's population will have 3G coverage and 50 percent of the world's population will be covered by 4G in 2017.

* Smartphone subscriptions are expected to reach 3 billion in 2017
* Mobile subscriptions reached 6.2 billion in Q1 2012 and 170 million new mobile subscriptions were added during the quarter
* Global data traffic to grow 15 times by the end of 2017

September 21, 2012

Japanese think tank predicts that South Korea will Pass Japan in GDP per capita by 2030

A think tank affiliated with the Keidanren business federation is predicting that South Korea will pass Japan in gross domestic product per capita around 2030.

The institute assumes Japan's population will drop to 116.6 million in 2030 from 128.1 million in 2010, with the percentage of working age people falling to 49.1 percent from 51.4 percent. Under these assumptions, the institute laid out four scenarios in GDP per capita.

In all but the most optimistic one, South Korea tops Japan in GDP per capita.

In the worst-case scenario, the economy begins shrinking in the 2010s due to worsening government debt.

In terms of GDP per capita, South Korea would rise to 15th and Japan would fall to 21st in 2030. In 2010, South Korea ranked 24th and Japan 20th.

The second-worst scenario sees the country's low productivity levels continuing, causing a repeat of the so-called Lost Decades.

In the second-most upbeat scenario, Japan's productivity levels rise to those of other developed countries. However, GDP per capita would still trail South Korea in 2030, ranking 17th to Seoul's 15th.

In the best scenario, where Japan's female labor force rises to the level of Sweden's by 2040, it would be ranked 15th and South Korea 16th.

First of Three Military Hybrid Airships delivered and flying

Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited and Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) announce the successful completion of the first flight of the U.S. Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). They have designed a 400ft (122m) long "lighter-than-air" hybrid vehicle for the US Army, in a contract worth half a billion pounds. The LEMV, a first-of-its-kind airship, took to the sky on the 7th August 2012 at 6:49 p.m. Eastern Time and flew for more than 90 minutes over Lakehurst Naval Air Station.

Hybrid Air Vehicles Limited website is here

The vehicle is capable of:

* Operating at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) above sea level
* With a 21-day on-station availability
* a 2,000 mile radius of action and is
* Runway independent

These hybrid airships have up to
* 40% Aerodynamic Lift
* 25% Vectored Thrust Lift
* 60% Buoyant Lift

Provides zero energy lift for long-endurance flight

Last year, Nextbigfuture covered a plan to buy around 45 new civilian hybrid air vehicles from this same company by a Canadian customer. These aircraft will be used across Canada's Northwest Territories. The airships will be produced and deployed around 2014.

Canada Bruce A1 reactor working again but the Gentilly 2 reactor will be shut

World Nuclear News - As the Bruce A1 reactor sends electricity to the grid for the first time in 15 years following a major refurbishment, Gentilly 2 learns from politicians that it faces closure.

Bruce A1 has been off line since 1997, when its then owner Ontario Hydro decided to lay up all four Bruce A units to focus on other reactors in its fleet. By 2004, Bruce Power had taken over operations and brought units 3 and 4 back into operation. The government of Ontario is committed to phasing out coal-fired electricity generation in the province, and in 2005, faced with impending power shortages, it agreed with Bruce Power that Bruce A units 1 and 2 should be refurbished and brought back into service as a faster option than building new units.

Bruce A2 is undergoing a similar refurbishment and is on track to return to operations by the end of 2012.

Years to Regeneration and Antiaging via Stem Cells and Gene therapy per George Church

80beats - George Church, the geneticist behind the Personal Genome Project, is envisioning a package deal: get your genome sequenced, and he and his collaborators will develop a line of induced pluripotent stem cells (IPS) from your tissue, so in the future, you’ll be able upgrade your system with organs and tissues bearing both your genes and special extras like genes from centenarians. It’s combining stem cells with gene therapy.

Technology Review - When David Ewing Duncan asked George Church what he was most excited about right now, he answered without hesitation: "I'm thinking a lot about using regeneration as the key to treatments and keeping people healthy."

TR: You mean regeneration using stem cells?

Church: Yes, induced pluripotent stem (IPS) cells (see, "Growing Heart Cells Just for You"). This is where I'm putting almost all of my chips these days, because it combines many of my interests--genomics, sequencing, epigenetics, synthetic biology, stem cells. I don't think people have fully appreciated how quickly adult stem cells and sequencing and synthetic biology have progressed. They have progressed by orders of magnitude since we got IPS. Before that, they basically weren't working.

Various portable solar chargers for under $100 to charge tablets, smartphones and laptops

There was a successful kickstarter for a 10 watt and 15 watt portable solar charging system

A high powered, portable solar power station that charges all your gadgets directly from the sun with outlet speeds.

What is SunVolt?

SunVolt is a portable charging platform which will efficiently convert the sun’s rays into powerful charging current for your mobile electronic devices. On a clear day, a SunVolt Solar Power Station can charge multiple devices with the same speed as if they were plugged in and charged from the wall. A custom designed carrying case which is light, stylish, and functional, enables the system to be highly portable. In mere seconds, users can easily set up the panel, plug in their devices, and start the charging process. When charging is complete, the panel quickly and safely stores for future use.

However, it appears there are 10 watt portable solar chargers that are available at amazon and elsewhere online for under $100. There is a 36 watt portable solar charger available by ordering from China for $50-100.

$87.50 for 10 watts with battery pack and $62.70 with just the 10 watt portable solar charger

* 10 Watts high-efficiency mono-crystalline solar panel with foldable design offers excellent portability, ideal for emergency preparedness, backpacking, camping and other outdoor activities
* Built-in dual USB charging ports for directly plugging in iPhone, iPad and other USB compatible mobile devices
* Detachable high-capacity 5,200 mAh rechargeable lithium battery pack with two USB charging ports for easy & convenient power storage, compatible with iPhone, iPad and other USB equipped portable devices.
* Measures only 9 X 6 X 2 inches and weighs less than 1 lb

September 20, 2012

DARPA developing microfabricated inertial sensors in case soldiers are cutoff from GPS for up to one day

India is planning a US$870 million project for an Exaflop Supercomputer in 2017

Popular Science Australia - India's government-backed computing agency has submitted a plan to the government there that calls for a massive investment in next-generation supercomputing power. The proposal, which calls for an investment of more than $870 million over five years, claims that it can rocket India to the very peak of the TOP500 list, the twice-a-year tallying of the fastest computing platforms in the world. In fact, the proposal says that these exaflop-range machines will be a full 61 times faster than the fastest existing machine.

That machine is currently Sequoia, an IBM-built supercomputer residing at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory that has demonstrated 16.32-petaflop speeds. A petaflop represents a thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

Jumping to the exaflop scale in just five years would truly be a leap forward for India. It's current highest-ranking machine on the global TOP500 is in the 58th position

Although India's Computer ministry is backing the formal proposal there has not been funding and approval for the central government.

Customized inkjet printing of lasers

Customized ink jet printers used to make printable lasers.

Away of printing lasers using everyday inkjet technology has been created by scientists at the University of Cambridge. The development has a wide range of possible applications, ranging from biomedical testing to laser arrays for display

A laser is a characteristically “pure” form of light, occupying a very narrow wavelength range, or colour. Laser devices are already ubiquitous in modern life; they are used to read data from Blu-Ray discs and deliver high-speed internet around the world, for example. In science and technology, lasers are similarly versatile – being employed for a wide range of purposes such as medical treatment and testing, or space-based remote sensing.

Today, most lasers are made on silicon wafers using expensive processes similar to those used to make microprocessors. However, scientists have now designed a process to “print” a type of organic laser on any surface, using technology very similar to that used in the home.

The process involves developing lasers based on chiral nematic liquid crystals (LCs), similar to the materials used in flat-panel LCD displays. These are a unique class of photonic materials that, under the right conditions, can be stimulated to produce laser emissions.

Soft Matter journal article -
Printed photonic arrays from self-organized chiral nematic liquid crystals

September 19, 2012

Commercializable Thermoelectric material could convert 20% of waste heat into Electricity

Phys Org - Northwestern University scientists have developed a thermoelectric material that is the best in the world at converting waste heat to electricity. This is very good news once you realize nearly two-thirds of energy input is lost as waste heat. This is a very environmentally stable material that is expected to convert 15 to 20 percent of waste heat to useful electricity, thermoelectrics could see more widespread adoption by industry.

Possible areas of application include the automobile industry (much of gasoline's potential energy goes out a vehicle's tailpipe), heavy manufacturing industries (such as glass and brick making, refineries, coal- and gas-fired power plants) and places were large combustion engines operate continuously (such as in large ships and tankers).

Even before the Northwestern record-setting material, thermoelectric materials were starting to get better and being tested in more applications. The Mars rover Curiosity is powered by lead telluride thermoelectrics (although it's system has a ZT of only 1, making it half as efficient as Northwestern's system), and BMW is testing thermoelectrics in its cars by harvesting heat from the exhaust system.

"Now, having a material with a ZT greater than two, we are allowed to really think big, to think outside the box," Dravid said. "This is an intellectual breakthrough." "Improving the ZT never stops—the higher the ZT, the better," Kanatzidis said. "We would like to design even better materials and reach 2.5 or 3. We continue to have new ideas and are working to better understand the material we have."

The researchers improved the long-wavelength scattering of phonons by controlling and tailoring the mesoscale architecture of the nanostructured thermoelectric materials. This resulted in the world record of a ZT of 2.2.

ZT of 2.2 means it is very good for working with 30-40% efficient car engines as a hybrid to make them more efficient

ZT 3.0 means that the material can replace some engines entirely in cars and replace cooling devices in refrigerators.

Technology Review indicates that the new material could make thermoelectric power practical.

Typical conversion systems become less efficient as they are scaled down to smaller sizes. This means there is a crossover point: below some power level thermoelectric technology will tend to be more efficient. Increasing ZT will move the crossover point to higher power levels, increasing the range of applications where thermoelectrics compete. Thus the ZT of 3 to compete with current best car size and refridgerator mechanical systems.

Heat engines typically operate at 30-40 percent efficiency, such that ~ 15 TW of heat is lost to the environment. To be competitive compared to current engines and refrigerators (efficiency 30-40 percent of Carnot limit), one must develop materials with ZT > 3. For the last 50 years, the ZT of materials has increased only marginally, from about 0.6 to 1, resulting in performance less than 10 percent of Carnot limit. There is no fundamental upper limit to ZT.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2 will be available by mid-November

CNET - Samsung will launch the Samsung Galaxy note 2, (a 5.5-inch Android 4.1 Jelly Bean "phablet," a smartphone with tabletlike proportions), on the same five carriers that initially offered the Galaxy S3 this summer. Moreover, the smartphone will carry Samsung's 1.6 GHz Exynos processor.

U.S. Cellular announced that it will sell the 16GB titanium gray color in late October for $299.99 -- for those who preorder the device. It will cost $299.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate after the Note 2 arrives in stores.

Sprint said that it will offer 16GB versions of the Note 2 in white and grey, but will announce specific pricing and availability at a later date. T-Mobile said in a press release that it, too, will share more details in the coming weeks. CNET has reached out to AT&T and Verizon about their plans, but expect more details soon. Samsung announced that the Galaxy Note 2 would come to carriers by mid-November.

The Note 2's S Pen stylus makes it a different product than the Galaxy S3 (GS3) in many respects, but in others, the Galaxy Note 2 is a continuation of the GS3's young legacy -- the Note 2's design builds on the same physical form as the GS3, but larger, and with the more flexible S Pen and attending software extras.

Samsung Galaxy Note 2: Samsung's next-generation phablet.(Credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Progress to smart fluids for self assembling computer chips

Imagine a computer chip that can assemble itself. According to Eric M. Furst, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of Delaware, engineers and scientists are closer to making this and other scalable forms of nanotechnology a reality as a result of new milestones in using nanoparticles as building blocks in functional materials.

The research team’s explored the use of colloids, microscopic particles that are mere hundredths the diameter of a human hair, to better understand how nano-“building blocks” can be directed to “self-assemble” into specific structures.

The research team studied paramagnetic colloids while periodically applying an external magnetic field at different intervals. With just the right frequency and field strength, the team was able to watch the particles transition from a random, solid like material into highly organized crystalline structures or lattices.

PNAS - Multi-scale kinetics of a field-directed colloidal phase transition (6 pages)

Diamondoids Improve Electron Emitters

Diamondoids are nanoparticles made of only a handful of carbon atoms, arranged in the same way as in diamond, forming nanometer sized diamond crystals. Previously, researchers at the ALS demonstrated the fascinating capability of these tiny little diamonds to act as a monochromator for electrons. In short, a thin layer of diamondoids deposited on a metal surface will first capture the electrons ejected from the surface below due to its negative electron affinity. These electrons, which are emitted from the metal with a wide variety of kinetic energies – or colors – are then re-emitted by the diamondoid layer but with a very narrow energy distribution. This property, which is unique to diamondoid, is believed to enable the development of a new generation of electron emitters with unprecedented properties.

In Photoemission Electron Microscopy (PEEM), electrons emitted from a sample due to x-ray irradiation are used to obtain images of the chemical or magnetic properties of a surface with high spatial resolution. However, chromatic aberrations limit the resolution typically to 20 nm due to the wide energy distribution of the emitted electrons. While it is possible to add expensive and complex correction elements to the microscope, this experiment demonstrates that the energy spread can instead be reduced right at the source by using an inexpensive, simple coating of diamondoids. Using this approach, the resolution of the PEEM3 microscope at ALS Beamline 11.0.1 improved significantly and researchers were able to attain chemical information from 10 nm Au nanoparticles. The study exemplifies how a problem not suited to conventional engineering solutions can be solved with the help of the unique properties of a nanoparticle.

Diamondoids are attached to the surface of a Co/Pd multilayer which exhibits magnetic domains that are 120nm wide. The two images in the top row are shown to compare PEEM images obtained from samples without and with diamondoid layer. The improvement of the spatial resolution in the presence of the diamondoid layer is clearly visible. The images have been obtained using a low sample voltage (10 kV) and the high transmission mode of the microscope to simulate imaging conditions for radiation sensitive samples. The study showed that the diamondoid cover improves the performance of PEEM over a wide range of imaging conditions

SARTRE Platooning Traffic Project Finalizes

The SARTRE (Safe Road Trains for the Environment) project, involving seven European partners, has been successfully finalised during 2012.
This unique project highlights the potential for implementing road trains on conventional highways, with platooned traffic operating in a mixed environment with other road users.

Thanks to the partners in the SARTRE road train project, you may soon be able to take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road in your own car – leaving the automated driving to modern technology.

“The road train is the best of two worlds. You can enjoy all the multi-tasking possibilities of public transportation behind the wheel of your own car. It’s the perfect complement to the true pleasure of driving a Volvo yourself,” says Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Corporation.

September 18, 2012

Sandia Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion targets breakeven by end of 2013

Sandia - Magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific “break-even” energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests.
(H/T NewEnergy and Fuel)

The liners survived an electromagnetic drubbing. This is a key step in stimulating further Sandia testing of a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which will use magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion.

In the dry-run experiments just completed, cylindrical beryllium liners remained reasonably intact as they were imploded by huge magnetic field of Sandia’s Z machine, the world’s most powerful pulsed-power accelerator. Had they overly distorted, they would have proved themselves incapable of shoveling together nuclear fuel — deuterium and possibly tritium — to the point of fusing them. Sandia researchers expect to add deuterium fuel in experiments scheduled for 2013.

A later simulation, published last January in PRL (Physical Review Letters) by Slutz and Sandia researcher Roger Vesey, showed that a more powerful accelerator generating 60 million amperes or more could reach “high-gain” fusion conditions, where the fusion energy released greatly exceeds (by more than 1,000 times) the energy supplied to the fuel.

The method appears to be 50 times more efficient than using X-rays — a previous favorite at Sandia — to drive implosions of targeted materials to create fusion conditions.

Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field. (Photo by Randy Montoya

Indonesia could be the 7th largest world economy by 2030

McKinsey Global Institute - By 2030, Indonesia could have the world’s 7th-largest economy, overtaking Germany and the United Kingdom.

Indonesia will trail China, USA, India, Japan, Brazil and Russia in GDP in 2030.

By 2025, more than half of the world’s population will have joined the consuming classes, driving annual consumption in emerging markets to $30 trillion. McKinsey defines the consumer class as people having net income over $3600 per person in PPP in 2005 dollars.

Indonesia was the 16th largest economy in 2011

Structural Analysis checks for weakness in 3D printed objects and Chooses Stronger Designs

I have a few 3D printed robots from Maker Faire and they all broke after a couple of days. This was in spite of careful handling. There is now a program to address the weakness and fragility of 3D printed objects.

Researchers at Purdue and Adobe's Advanced Technology Labs have jointly developed a program that automatically imparts strength to objects before they are printed.

"It runs a structural analysis, finds the problematic part and then automatically picks one of the three possible solutions," Benes said.

Findings were detailed in a paper presented during the SIGGRAPH 2012 conference in August. Former Purdue doctoral student Ondrej Stava created the software application, which automatically strengthens objects either by increasing the thickness of key structural elements or by adding struts. The tool also uses a third option, reducing the stress on structural elements by hollowing out overweight elements.

"We not only make the objects structurally better, but we also make them much more inexpensive," Mech said. "We have demonstrated a weight and cost savings of 80 percent."

The new tool automatically identifies "grip positions" where a person is likely to grasp the object. A "lightweight structural analysis solver" analyzes the object using a mesh-based simulation. It requires less computing power than traditional finite-element modeling tools, which are used in high-precision work such as designing jet engine turbine blades.

"The 3-D printing doesn't have to be so precise, so we developed our own structural analysis program that doesn't pay significant attention to really high precision," Benes said.

Doped graphite may superconduct at up to 230 degrees celsius

Nature - Researchers in Germany have claimed a breakthrough: a material that can act as a superconductor — transmit electricity with zero resistance — at room temperature and above.

Pablo Esquinazi and his colleagues at the University of Leipzig report that flakes of humble graphite soaked in water seem to continue superconducting at temperatures of greater than 100 °C. Even Esquinazi admits that the claim “sounds like science fiction”, but the work has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Advanced Materials, and other physicists contacted by Nature say that the results, although tentative, merit further scrutiny.
Magnification of the water treated graphite grains

This is following up on an article from one week ago about evidence of room temperature superconductivity in water treated graphite

Samsung Galaxy S4 to be launched March 2013

Korea Times - Samsung Electronics plans to unveil the latest in its Galaxy line, the S4, at a European technology exhibition in February, according to company officials and local parts suppliers for the technology giant. This release will only be ten months after the Samsung Galaxy S3 was launched.

The Galaxy S IV will be the company’s most powerful smartphone to date and is said to include a 5-inch display (bigger than the 4.8 inch display of the S3), a quad-core Exynos processor and 4G LTE capabilities.

Samsung is asking Apple to pay more to use its mobile application processors produced at its plant in Austin, Texas. The release of the S4 means more market share for Samsung as it is the only firm that can guarantee on-time delivery, output commitment and better pricing for mobile application processors,'' said one executive.

The fast release will also help Samsung have models that completely avoid Apple patents.

For forty years Russia has kept secret a diamond discovery ten times larger than the rest of the World's Diamond Reserves

CSMonitor - Russia has just declassified news that will shake world gem markets to their core: the discovery of a vast new diamond field containing "trillions of carats," enough to supply global markets for another 3,000 years.

ITAR-TASS -The resources of super-hard diamonds contained in rocks of the Popigai crypto-explosion structure, are by a factor of ten bigger than the world's all known reserves. We are speaking about trillions of carats, for comparison – present-day known reserves in Yakutia are estimated at one billion carats," he said

The Soviets discovered the bonanza back in the 1970s beneath a 35-million-year-old, 62-mile diameter asteroid crater in eastern Siberia known as Popigai Astroblem.

They decided to keep it secret, and not to exploit it, apparently because the USSR's huge diamond operations at Mirny, in Yakutia, were already producing immense profits in what was then a tightly controlled world market.

The veil of secrecy was finally lifted over the weekend, and Moscow permitted scientists from the nearby Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy to talk about it with Russian journalists.

According to the official news agency, ITAR-Tass, the diamonds at Popigai are "twice as hard" as the usual gemstones, making them ideal for industrial and scientific uses.

Another interesting question is what other massive resources have been discovered and kept secret ?

Diamonds in mines are usually valued in the range of $100 per carat.

This resource is worth in the range of a few hundred trillion dollars. Although the size of the discovery will likely reduce the price of diamonds.

Other information sources on Harold White's NASA Microscopic Warp Bubble Experiments

The NASA Johnson Space Center July, 2012 roundup newsletter has coverage of Harold White's space warping experiment on page 8 (out of 12 pages)

Nextbigfuture has covered the warp field engineering work here and here

In terms of our galactic neighborhood, Alpha Centauri is right around the corner at 4.3 light years (271,931 AUs), so 75,000 years would not be ideal—especially for a human crew. But if you threw a bunch of power and propulsion behind it, then what?

Back in the 1970s, the British Interplanetary Society looked into what it would take to send a robotic probe to reach Barnard’s Star, about 6 light years (or 380,000 AU) away, within 50 years. Oh, just a 54,000-thousand-metric-ton spacecraft—92 percent of which is fuel. And, if you’re curious, that mass is well over 100 times the mass of the International Space Station.

“When somebody comes with this study result telling me it takes 54,000 metric tons to go and do something interstellar within 50 years, that just tells me we need to be looking at some other loopholes in physics to see if we can find some other ways to make it a little bit more tractable,” White said.

The loopholes, amazingly, can be found in mathematical equations. Those equations are tested using an instrument called the White-Juday Warp Field Interferometer.

“We’ve initiated an interferometer test bed in this lab, where we’re going to go through and try and generate a microscopic instance of a little warp bubble,” White said. “And although this is just a microscopic instance of the phenomena, we’re perturbing space time, one part in 10 million, a very tiny amount.”

By harnessing the physics of cosmic inflation, future spaceships crafted to satisfy the laws of these mathematical equations may actually be able to get somewhere unthinkably fast—and without adverse effects.

Rethink Robotics Baxter is about 20 times cheaper than Willow Garage PR2 and can work for $4 per hour

NY Times - Rethink Robotics Baxter, comes encased in plastic and has a nine-foot “wingspan,” is relatively slow and imprecise in the way it moves. And it has an elaborate array of safety mechanisms and sensors to protect the human workers it assists.

The $22,000 robot that Rethink will begin selling in October is the clearest evidence yet that robotics is more than a laboratory curiosity or a tool only for large companies with vast amounts of capital. The company is betting it can broaden the market for robots by selling an inexpensive machine that can collaborate with human workers, the way the computer industry took off in the 1980s when the prices of PCs fell sharply and people without programming experience could start using them right out of the box.

“It feels like a true Macintosh moment for the robot world,” said Tony Fadell, the former Apple executive who oversaw the development of the iPod and the iPhone.

Baxter will come equipped with a library of simple tasks, or behaviors — for example, a “common sense” capability to recognize it must have an object in its hand before it can move and release it.

Although it will be possible to program Baxter, the Rethink designers avoid the term. Instead they talk about “training by demonstration.” For example, to pick up an object and move it, a human will instruct the robot by physically moving its arm and making it grab the object.

Rodney A. Brooks with Baxter, a robot he developed with an array of safety mechanisms and sensors. NY Times

Video of Rethink Robotics Baxter Robot

North American oil production to accelerate 900,000 barrel per day each year through 2016

Alberta Oil Magazine - Technological breakthroughs are freeing up oceans of black gold from plays in the United States and Canada. Couple that with rising production from Alberta’s oil sands and North American markets are flush in domestic oil, which is leading many giddy Americans to think they are on the cusp of achieving a treasured goal: energy independence. CIBC World Markets Inc. agrees with that view and says that North American oil production can grow by 800,000 to 900,000 barrels per day (bpd) annually through 2016. And the production growth will come from the onshore, offshore and the oil sands.

Source: CIBC World Markets Inc.

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September 17, 2012

Rethink robotics reveals its revolutionary Baxter Manufacturing Robot

Technology Review reveals the Baxter robot from Rethink Robotics (renamed from Heartland Robotics)

Baxter, is six feet tall, 300 pounds, and a robot. For a hulking machine, Baxter is remarkably expressive. A pair of eyes on the screen that serves as a face stare down as the robot picks up plastic components, look concerned when it makes a mistake, and direct its glance at its next task when one is finished. It's cute. But the real point of these expressions is that they let workers nearby know instantly if Baxter is performing appropriately, and they provide clues to what it is about to do next. Even more amazing, when Baxter is done with one task, a fellow worker can simply show the robot how to start another. "Almost anyone, literally, can in very short order be shown how to program it," says Chris Budnick, president of Vanguard Plastics. "It's a matter of a couple of minutes."

Baxter is the first of a new generation of smarter, more adaptive industrial robots. Conventional industrial robots are expensive to program, incapable of handling even small deviations in their environment, and so dangerous that they have to be physically separated from human workers by cages. So even as robotics have become commonplace in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries, they remain impractical in many other types of manufacturing. Baxter, however, can be programmed more easily than a Tivo and can deftly respond to a toppled-over part or shifted table. And it is so safe that Baxter's developer, Rethink Robotics, which loaned Baxter to Vanguard Plastics, believes it can work seamlessly alongside its human coworkers.

Get a grip: Baxter demonstrates a simple manufacturing task at Rethink Robotics’ headquarters in Boston. Technology Review

Baxter is twenty times cheaper then the $400,000 Willow Garage PR2 robot which has a similar form but is more difficult to program. Rethink Robotics estimates that Baxter can provide work for $4 an hour.

Strait of Hormuz and other Oil Chokepoints

In January, 2012 we had looked at what would happen the Straits of Hormuz an oil movement if there was war with Iran and the economic impact of Iran attempting to shut the Straits of Hormuz. This is an update.

Iran currently is not exporting much, about 1 million barrels per day.

So an attack that shutdown Iranian exports would be less impactful than the Libyan situation last year.

Iran would attempt to mine and shutdown the straits of hormuz. 17 million barrels goes through the Straits of Hormuz.

Pentagon officials estimate if Iran was foolish enough to try and close the Strait of Hormuz using its estimated arsenal of 2,000 mines, the US Navy and allied nations would be able to clear it in five to ten days. That's just long enough to likely cause massive spikes in worldwide oil prices, disrupt global shipping traffic. "If they wanted to close the Strait of Hormuz, they could do it, but they would only be able to do it one time," Christopher Harmer, a retired Navy commander who served as director of future operations at U.S. 5th Fleet headquarters in Bahrain, told KTLA

Genome sequencing improving faster than Moore's law

Since 2007, the cost of sequencing genomes has declined 50% faster per year than the cost of computers. Plummeting sequencing costs have been due to a combination of Moore's law and massive scaleups. Juan Enriquez is an author and an expert on the life sciences industry. He runs a venture capital fund that invests in life science startups that could produce useful products and treatments within the next five years, and also engages in more long-term forecasting. In an interview for Next Big Future with Sander Olson, Enriquez discusses the exponential rate of change for biotechnology, and why he believes that the changes wrought by the biosciences during the next three decades could surpass the industrial revolution in importance.

Juan Enriquez

Question: Tell us about Biotechonomy

I am involved with both businesses. In my day job I work at Excel Venture Management, which is a venture capital fund aimed at life science projects. We are currently investing in about 17 companies. At Biotechonomy I do long-term research and speaking.

Warp engineering at 100 year spaceship conference has coverage of the Sonny White NASA project to study the warping of space.

We have had detailed coverage of the warp field engineering research.

The article indicates that they are trying to create and detect a warping of space that is 1 part in 10 million.

Ignore the RSS post about "Somthing went wrong"

I did not put that artiucle into the RSS or twitter feed.

September 16, 2012

Path to Affordable uranium from seawater

IEEE Spectrum - Our oceans contain an estimated 4.5 billion metric tons of uranium, diluted down to a minuscule 3.3 parts per billion. The idea of extracting uranium from seawater has been kicking around for decades now, but the materials and processes to do so may finally be economically viable.

The best method works like this: A polymer substrate—basically, plastic—is irradiated, and then chemicals with an affinity for uranium are grafted onto it. The material is woven into 60-meter-long braids, and these are then brought out by boat to water at least 100 meters deep. The braids are chained to the ocean floor and allowed to float passively in the water, like an artificial kelp forest. After about 60 days, the boat returns and pulls in the adsorbent materials—now sporting a healthy yellow tint from the uranium. The plastic is then brought back to shore, and the uranium is eluted off.

Induced Regeneration and tissue engineered organs

Huffington Post / AP - The Associated Press conducted more than a dozen interviews and reviewed the latest medical research to measure the progress and extent of novel treatments under way for wounded warriors. The results point to some surprising feats of surgery and bioengineering.

Scientists are growing ears, bone and skin in the lab, and doctors are planning more face transplants and other extreme plastic surgeries. Around the country, the most advanced medical tools that exist are now being deployed to help America's newest veterans and wounded troops.

_In Los Angeles, surgeons used part of Michael Mills' forehead to rebuild his nose after a bomb disfigured him in Iraq.

_In Pittsburgh, doctors used an experimental therapy from pig tissue to help regrow part of a thigh muscle that Ron Strang lost in a blast in Afghanistan.

_In Boston, scientists are making plans for the first implants of lab-grown ears for wounded troops after successful experiments in sheep and rats.

_In San Antonio and other cities, doctors are testing sprayed-on skin cells and lab-made sheets of skin to heal burns and other wounds. The ingenuity is impressive: One product was developed from foreskin left over from circumcisions.

Much of this comes from taxpayer-funded research. Four years ago, the federal government created AFIRM, the Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine, a network of top hospitals and universities, and gave $300 million in grants to spur new treatments using cell science and advanced plastic surgery.

"The whole idea is to bring all these researchers together to develop these great technologies that were in early science to eventually be ready for the troops," said AFIRM's recently retired director, Terry Irgens.

Elon Musk's big plans include Vertical takeoff Supersonic Commercial Jets, Hyperloop and Mars

Business Week has a lengthy feature on Elon Musk.

Elon Musks Hyperloop transportation system is discussed but there are still very few details.

His friends claim he’s had a Hyperloop technological breakthrough over the summer. “I’d like to talk to the governor and president about it,” Musk continues. “Because the $60 billion bullet train they’re proposing in California would be the slowest bullet train in the world at the highest cost per mile. They’re going for records in all the wrong ways.” The cost of the SF-LA Hyperloop would be in the $6 billion range, he says.

Musk is also planning to develop a new kind of airplane: “Boeing just took $20 billion and 10 years to improve the efficiency of their planes by 10 percent. That’s pretty lame. I have a design in mind for a vertical liftoff supersonic jet that would be a really big improvement.”

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 122

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