December 08, 2012

Artificial and self-assembled pinning centers in Ba(Fe1-xCox)2As2 thin films as a route to very high current density

Arxiv - ABSTRACT - We report on the superior vortex pinning of single and multilayer Ba(Fe1-xCox)2As2 thin films with self-assembled c-axis and artificially introduced ab-plane pins. Ba(Fe1-xCox)2As2 can accept a very high density of pins (15-20 vol%) without Tc suppression. The matching field is greater than 12 T, producing a significant enhancement of the critical current density Jc, an almost isotropic Jc (Theta,20T) over 10^5 A/cm2, and global pinning force density Fp of ~ 50 GN/m3. This scenario strongly differs from the high temperature cuprates where the addition of pins without Tc suppression is limited to 2-4 vol%, leading to small HIrr enhancements and improved Jc only below 3-5 Tesla.
TEM images of HOC–S100 single layer Ba(Fe0.92Co0.08)2As2 thin film. (a)-(b), cross-section images showing the c-axis BFO-nanorods (NR) and the ab-arranged nanoparticles (NP). (c) Planar view reveals a high density of nanorods, corresponding to a matching field B=13.2T.

LCD in a contact lens

Scientists have developed a spherical LCD that's suitable for embedding in contact lenses. A prototype of the miniature curved display unveiled today shows a dollar sign; its creators say this a nod to the "many cartoons that feature people or figures with dollars in their eyes." Despite how simple that symbol may seem, it perfectly demonstrates the advantages offered by LCD technology compared to LED-based contact lenses that have come before. Researchers at The Centre of Microsystems Technology in Belgium have engineered the display so that its entire surface area can be pixelated.

As of now the scope is fairly limited — it's only capable of outputting "rudimentary" patterns similar to those you'd see on a pocket calculator. But future implications are far more promising than this initial prototype, and scientists are hopeful the LCD will be harnessed for medical purposes. For example, it could enable those with a damaged iris to limit the amount of light transmitted toward their retina. Cosmetic uses are also possible: someone with two different-colored eyes could potentially use such a lens to achieve uniformity

The human eye simply can't focus on anything that close, anything shown on the display would only be visible to bystanders and not the person wearing it.

Google glass and other displays on wearable glasses can be used for heads up displays

IEDM preview: Intel's 22nm mobile technology and more

1. ZDNet - At IEDM, the main attraction this year is a talk by Intel on 22nm SoC technology using its 3-D transistors, generally known as FinFETs, for mobile processors. Intel's Ivy Bridge Core processors for laptops, desktops and servers already use this technology, but this will be the first time the company has talked in detail about how its 22nm technology with FinFETs will translate to Atom mobile processors for the increasingly important smartphone and tablet markets. Intel's current Atom processors are still stuck on the older 32nm planar technology, but in mobile the company has set an aggressive goal of shrinking its chips once a year. Although it is still playing catch-up to a host of ARM competitors, Intel insists that ultimately the best transistor will win, and this presentation may be the first indication of whether it can really deliver on this.

December 07, 2012

LENR Celani Replication

1. Removed New Energy Times article.

Here is a presentation with three slides which describe transmutation work done by Mitsubishi.

2. Ecat World - Francesco Celani has sent a letter to announcing a successful 3rd party replication of his LENR system, which apparently has been improved since he did the demonstration at NI Week in Texas earlier this year.

A translation of the letter is at the vortex forum

Japan may restart more nuclear reactors in the summer of 2013 and India approves six nuclear reactors

1. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) revealed on Friday that it may give the approval to restart some of the country’s idled reactors as early as next summer, only after they pass safety inspections beginning in the spring. While only two of Japan’s nuclear reactors are currently online, they were given approval under provisional safety standards. The NRA says it is developing new safety requirements that will be imposed starting in July.

A bill was also passed by Parliament earlier this year that will require existing reactors to meet the new regulator’s standards before being allowed to restart. If they fail, they will have to conduct improvements in order to be considered once more. The NRA pledges to take responsibility for the safety of the reactors it approves, but in an about-face attempt to pass the ball, it says the government will have the final decision of which nuclear facilities are restarted. Much of the Japanese public wants to abandon the use of nuclear power altogether, and with general elections being held in less than two weeks, several political parties are pledging to phase out nuclear energy by the 2030s.

Canada approved China's takeover of Nexen Oil but will Block future foreign takeovers

Canada approved China's biggest ever foreign takeover on Friday, the $15.1 billion bid from CNOOC Ltd for energy company Nexen Inc., but drew a line in the sand against future buys by state-owned enterprises.

"To be blunt, Canadians have not spent years reducing the ownership of sectors of the economy by our own governments, only to see them bought and controlled by foreign governments instead," Harper told reporters after Ottawa gave the deal the green light, along with approval for the less controversial takeover of gas company Progress Energy Resources Corp by Petronas of Malaysia.

"Foreign state control of oil sands development has reached the point at which further such foreign state control would not be of net benefit to Canada," he added.

The strict new approach restricts state-owned enterprises to minority stakes in Canadian enterprises except in what Harper described as "exceptional circumstances".

It will raise questions about how Canada can raise the C$650 billion ($657 billion) investment it says it needs in the natural resources sector in the next decade alone. Ministers say much of the money will have to come from abroad and cash-rich China is an obvious source.

Future US oil production estimates

There is an early release of the 2013 EIA Annual Energy Outlook overview.

There have been some websites making a big deal that it forecasts a crude oil peak in 2019 of 7.54 million bpd.

US crude oil production is already at 6.82 million barrels per day and has been pretty steadily increasing for the last three years. This was an increase of 300,000 barrels per day from two months ago when the last North Dakota and Texas state oil production were reported. It seems like 2013 and later years are being underestimated by the EIA.

Continental Resources has new well results which indicate that the oil in place in the Bakken is 903 billion barrels and not 577 billion barrels. They previously had estimated a 4% recovery rate for about 24 billion barrels. A 4% recovery rate on the new oil in place estimate would be about 36 billion barrels. This is over double the high end recovery scenario by North Dakota's oil department. This would mean that North Dakota should have a plateau of 2 million barrels per day. There would also be an incentive of $900 billion for companies to find a way to increase the recovery rate by each additional percentage. (ie from 4% to 5% and 36 billion barrels to 45 billion barrels).

India Instacon built a ten story building in 48 hours

Businessman Harpal Singh, who conceived the project, claimed that the “building will be an energy efficient model with one sample floor fully furnished.” Engineers in charge of the project said the whole building was pre-fabricated. Components like doors, floors, water supply and wiring components were ready and needs to be fitted as the building scales up. A special transportation vehicle was deployed to ferry the components to the building site.

The reports from India do not mention that they are licensee of China's Broad Group. So they appear to have replicated some the mass production and construction techniques of Broad Group.

New atomic-layer electrodeposition method yields surprising results

A new method for creating very thin layers of materials at the atomic scale, reported in the latest issue of the journal Science, could "unlock an important new technology" for creating nanomaterials, according to nanomaterials expert Dr. Jay A. Switzer of Missouri University of Science and Technology in the journal.

This illustration depicts how atomic-layer electrodeposition of ultrathin platinum films is achieved through a new process discussed by Missouri S&T Professor of Discovery Jay A. Switzer.

Tiny structure gives big boost to solar power

Princeton researchers have found a simple and economical way to nearly triple the efficiency of organic solar cells, the cheap and flexible plastic devices that many scientists believe could be the future of solar power.

The researchers, led by electrical engineer Stephen Chou, were able to increase the efficiency of the solar cells 175 percent by using a nanostructured "sandwich" of metal and plastic that collects and traps light. Chou said the technology also should increase the efficiency of conventional inorganic solar collectors, such as standard silicon solar panels, although he cautioned that his team has not yet completed research with inorganic devices.
A conventional solar cell, left, reflects light off its surface and loses light that penetrates the cell. New technology, right, develop by Princeton professor Stephen Chou and colleagues in electrical engineering, prevents both types of loss and is much thinner. (Illustration by Dimitri Karetnikov)

Economist forecasts of GDP

The Economist World in 2013 has forecasts for GDP for many countries.

15 countries have nominal GDP over 1 trillion.

10 countries have nominal GDP over 2 trillion.

Population in millions
GDP and PPP in billions

Country Population GDP per Cap  PPP per cap   GDP              PPP

USA      317        51525       51525         16333          16333  
China   1340         6800       10410          9112          13949
Japan    125.7      45680       37430          5742           4705
Germany   81.8      41600       41550          3403           3399
France    64        40930       37240          2620           2383
Brazil   196.5      12670       12820          2490           2519
UK        63.6      38850       37860          2471           2408
India   1240         1770        4270          2195           5295
Russia   142.5      14570       18750          2076           2672
Italy     61.1      32770       32510          2002           1986
Canada    35        53160       42850          1861           1500
Australia 23.2      66950       44390          1553           1030
Spain     46.5      29260       32480          1361           1510
Mexico   116.2      10420       18760          1211           2180
S. Korea  49.9      24590       33310          1227           1662 
Indonesia250.8       3890        5240           976           1314

December 06, 2012

Star Trek into Darkness Trailer

The next Star Trek movie into Darkness has a release date of May 17, 2013 in the USA.

A few more seconds in the Trailer for Japan

Voyager finds magnetic highway at the edge of the solar system

NASA - NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft has entered a new region at the far reaches of our solar system that scientists feel is the final area the spacecraft has to cross before reaching interstellar space.

Scientists refer to this new region as a magnetic highway for charged particles because our sun's magnetic field lines are connected to interstellar magnetic field lines. This connection allows lower-energy charged particles that originate from inside our heliosphere -- or the bubble of charged particles the sun blows around itself -- to zoom out and allows higher-energy particles from outside to stream in. Before entering this region, the charged particles bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the heliosphere.

The Voyager team infers this region is still inside our solar bubble because the direction of the magnetic field lines has not changed. The direction of these magnetic field lines is predicted to change when Voyager breaks through to interstellar space.
This artist's concept shows how NASA's Voyager 1 spacecraft is bathed in solar wind from the southern hemisphere flowing northward. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Titan, Saturn's largest moon has 200 kilometer thick ice layer and 300 kilometer thick ocean

Scientists have long suspected that a vast ocean of liquid water lies under the crusty exterior of Titan, Saturn's largest moon. New analysis suggests that the internally generated heat that keeps that ocean from freezing relies on the moon's interactions with Saturn and its other moons.

A new analysis of topographic and gravity data from Titan, the largest of Saturn's moons, indicates that Titan's icy outer crust is twice as thick as has generally been thought.

Scientists have long suspected that a vast ocean of liquid water lies under the crust. The new study suggests that the internally generated heat that keeps that ocean from freezing solid depends far more on Titan's interactions with Saturn and its other moons than had been suspected.

"The picture of Titan that we get has an icy, rocky core with a radius of a little over 2,000 kilometers, an ocean somewhere in the range of 225 to 300 kilometers thick and an ice layer that is 200 kilometers thick," he said.

Previous models of Titan's structure estimated the icy crust to be approximately 100 kilometers thick. So if there is more ice, then there should be less heat from the core than had been estimated. One way to account for less heat being generated internally is for there to be less rock and more ice in the core than previous models had predicted.

That all seems simple enough, but there is a complication. Titan is not a true sphere. Its shape is distorted by the gravitational pull of Saturn, making the moon sort of oblong along its equator and a little flattened at the poles.

Bowel Cancer Breath Test is 76% accurate

Scientists say they have developed a breath-test that can accurately tell if a person has bowel cancer.

The test, which looks for exhaled chemicals linked to tumour activity, was able to identify a majority of patients with the disease.

The British Journal of Surgery reported an overall accuracy of 76%.

However, another scientist said it was unlikely a fully functioning and reliable breath-test would be available soon for the general public.

Scientists are working on breath-tests for a host of other diseases, including several types of cancer, TB and diabetes.

If diagnosed and treated early, the chances of stopping cancer can be good, but there is often little or no outward sign of the disease until it has progressed significantly.

Golden Spike announce Phase A for commercial lunar landing missions - Golden Spike formed in 2010, has an impressive board of directors, led by Board Chair Gerry Griffin – a former Director of Johnson Space Center and Apollo Flight Director – and President/CEO Alan Stern, the well-known Planetary scientist, and former head of all NASA science missions.

The board includes former NASA engineers, astronauts and managers – including the highly respected former Space Shuttle Program (SSP) manager Wayne Hale, along with commercial space notables, such as former SpaceX program manager for the Dragon spacecraft, Max Vozoff.

For the last two years, the company has been building a business model and conducting technical studies into the lunar architecture they are currently pursuing.

Realizing their goal – to the point they successfully carry out their first crewed lunar surface mission – will cost between $7 and $8 billion. While no specific details into current funding are likely to be revealed during this initial period, the company has said it will be mainly relying on funding via sales revenue, generated via contracts they expect to be signed by customers for actual lunar flights.

Funding levels and speculations on sources

Although the cost to get a crewed lunar surface mission is $7-8 billion. They are not developing the launch vehicles. Lunar lander technology has been developed by Armadillo Aerospace. The actual level of funding might be kept below $500 million. They would need to have the government customers (NASA, US military, India, Brazil, China, Canada etc... ) If they have the connections and are able to get some customers with some early unmanned missions, then they could bootstrap to the crewed landings.

There are several billionaires who have been willing to spend money on space ventures. Google’s CEO Larry Page and executive chairman Eric Schmidt, former Microsoft chief architect Charles Simonyi, K. Ram Shriram, and Ross Perot Jr.

Newt Gingrich is also friends with Sheldon Aldelson (billionaire owner of Las Vegas Sands - which owns the Venetion hotels, net worth about $21 billion).

Space Agency Budgets

Civiliaan Space agency budgets at wikipedia.

Country        Agency  Budget   (USD)
USA            NASA     $17,700 million 
Europe         ESA       $5,430 million (2011)
Russia         ROSCOSMOS $3,800 million (2011)
France         CNES      $2,822 million (2010)
Japan          JAXA      $2,460 million
Germany        DLR       $2,000 million
India          ISRO      $1,320 million
China          CNSA      $1,300 million
Italy          ASI       $1,000 million
Iran           ISA         $500 million
United Kingdom UKSA        $414 million
Brazil         AEB         $343 million
Canada         CSA         $300 million
South Korea    KARI        $300 million
Ukraine        NSAU        $250 million
Belgium        BELSPO      $170 million
Argentina      CONAE       $148 million
Spain          INTA        $135 million
Sweden         SNSB        $100 million

The unclassified US military space budget was about $40 billion per year but for 2013 will decline to about 32 billion.

The US also has a spy agency space budgets.

Golden Spike Commercial Moon Missions Company Video and More Information

Cosmic Log - On December 6, 2012 the Golden Spike Company announced plans for private funded commercial exploration of the moon.

A group of space veterans and big-name backers today took the wraps off the Golden Spike Company, a commercial space venture that aims to send paying passengers to the moon and back at an estimated price of $1.4 billion or more for two.

The venture would rely on private funding, and it's not clear when the first lunar flight would be launched — but the idea reportedly has clearance from NASA, which abandoned its own back-to-the-moon plan three and a half years ago.

"A key element that makes our business achievable and compelling is Golden Spike's team of nationally and internationally known experts in human and robotic spaceflight, planetary and lunar science, exploration, venture capital formation, and public outreach," Stern said in the news release.

Stern, a planetary scientist who was NASA's associate administrator for science in 2007-2008, is Golden Spike's president and CEO, while Griffin is chairman of the board. Other board members include new-space entrepreneur Esther Dyson and Taber McCallum, co-founder and CEO of Paragon Space Development Corp. The lineup of advisers tap into a who's who of space figures, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, NASA shuttle program manager Wayne Hale, former NASA engineer Homer Hickam and Bill Richardson, who has served as U.N. ambassador, energy secretary and the governor of New Mexico.

The venture also numbers United Launch Alliance, Armadillo Aerospace, Masten Space Systems and several other space-industry players on its team for the lunar lander system.

Golden Spike said market studies indicated that 15 to 20 expeditions could be undertaken in the decade after the first landing. However, no time frame was given for that landing. That's just one of the gaps in Golden Spike's plan. Among the other questions yet to be answered: How will Golden Spike fund its operations during the buildup to the first flight? Can private-sector efforts produce a workable lunar launch and landing system at a cost far less than the $100 billion that NASA said it would cost in 2005? Are Golden Spike's assumptions about the demand for lunar missions correct, even if the price point is in its estimated range of $1.4 billion and up? And what relationships would Golden Spike be able to forge with NASA and international space efforts?

Note - Newt Gingrich is an advisor. Newt was ripped in the recent presidential primaries for proposing a permantent moon base by 2020.

New optical tweezers trap specimens just a few nanometers across

A microscale technique known as optical trapping uses beams of light as tweezers to hold and manipulate tiny particles. Stanford researchers have found a new way to trap particles smaller than 10 nanometers - and potentially down to just a few atoms in size – which until now have escaped light’s grasp.

To grasp and move microscopic objects, such as bacteria and the components of living cells, scientists can harness the power of concentrated light to manipulate them without ever physically touching them.

Now, doctoral student Amr Saleh and Assistant Professor Jennifer Dionne, researchers at the Stanford School of Engineering, have designed an innovative light aperture that allows them to optically trap smaller objects than ever before – potentially just a few atoms in size.

The process of optical trapping – or optical tweezing, as it is often known – involves sculpting a beam of light into a narrow point that produces a strong electromagnetic field. The beam attracts tiny objects and traps them in place, just like a pair of tweezers.

Unfortunately, there are natural limits to the technique. The process breaks down for objects significantly smaller than the wavelength of light. Therefore, optical tweezers cannot grasp super-small objects like individual proteins, which are only a couple of nanometers in diameter.

Saleh and Dionne have shown theoretically that light passed through their novel aperture would stably trap objects as small as 2 nanometers.

This illustration shows the new aperture design (left) with two layers of silver separated by another of silicon dioxide. The structure focuses light in a novel way to trap particles smaller than ever before. The focused beams are shown in the illustration on the right.

Nanoletters - Toward Efficient Optical Trapping of Sub-10-nm Particles with Coaxial Plasmonic Apertures

3D cork-like structures created from graphene

Monash University researchers have established, for the first time, an effective way of forming graphene, which normally exists in very thin layers, into useful three-dimensional (3D) forms by mirroring the structure of cork.

Graphene is formed when graphite is broken down into layers one atom thick. In this form, it is very strong, chemically stable and an excellent conductor of electricity. It has a wide range of potential applications, from batteries that are able to recharge in a matter of seconds, to biological tissue scaffolds for use in organ transplant and even regeneration.

Professor Li, from the Department of Materials Engineering, said previous research had focused mainly on the intrinsic properties and applications of the individual sheets, while his team tackled the challenge of engineering the sheets into macroscopically-useable 3D structures.

"When the atomic graphene sheets are assembled together to form 3D structures, they normally end up with porous monoliths that are brittle and perform poorly," Professor Li said.

Scanning electron microscope image of cork-like cellular graphene monolith, magnified 2000 times. Credit: Ling Qiu
The graphene monoliths show much lower density then other conventional materials.

Nature Communications - Biomimetic superelastic graphene-based cellular monoliths

Orbital Sciences Replaces SpaceX on Stratolaunch Project - After the exit of launch services provider SpaceX as its rocket subcontractor, Stratolaunch Systems has turned to Orbital Sciences of Dulles, Va., to keep the world's largest air-launch-to-orbit system on track for a 2017 test flight.

What those configurations were, neither Stratolaunch nor Orbital would say. Huntsville, Ala.-based Stratolaunch had been banking on using a liquid-fueled booster from SpaceX. Orbital specializes in solid-fueled rockets. The first stage of the liquid-fueled Taurus 2 rocket Orbital expects to debut in 2013 relies on a Ukranian-supplied first stage powered by a rebadged Russian engine. While the company has extensive experience with air-launched systems, it has not built one with the payload-carrying capacity that Stratolaunch seeks.

Orbital's solid-fueled Pegasus rocket, which can loft 450 kilograms to low Earth orbit, has logged 41 launches since 1990. Only three of these were failures, according to an online mission history maintained by Orbital. However, Pegasus-class business has all but dried up. The single Pegasus XL launch of 2012 was the rocket's first flight in four years, and there is only one Pegasus XL mission on Orbital's manifest today: the April 2013 launch of NASA's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph space telescope.

Private Company Golden Spike will be selling private routine trips to the moon by 2020

Technology Review - Today (Thursday), at a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., a company called Golden Spike is scheduled to announce its intention to organize manned commercial expeditions to the moon by 2020, selling seats or cargo space to wealthy individuals, nations, and corporations.

The effort is led by former NASA officials who intend to use commercial rockets such as the Falcon Heavy Lift Vehicle, now in development by SpaceX, the aerospace company started by entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Most likely, the team of ex-NASA hands is hoping to make a publicity splash that will draw additional investors and partners. A trip to the moon, or even a flyby, would be hugely expsensive. In materials prepared for its media launch, the company said the cost of “a two-human lunar surface mission” would be at least $1.4 billion.

Even so, a recent boom in commercial space technology is allowing entrepreneurs to dream bigger than ever. The expected availability of large commercial rockets for hire—the debut launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy is scheduled for next year—has spurred growing interest around private exploration, including of the moon, asteroids, and Mars

Nextbigfuture had covered the rumors of this private moon company two weeks ago

DNA Hydrogel - Organic metamaterial flows like a liquid, remembers its shape

A new material created by Cornell researchers is so soft that it can flow like a liquid and then, strangely, return to its original shape.

Rather than liquid metal, it is a hydrogel, a mesh of organic molecules with many small empty spaces that can absorb water like a sponge. It qualifies as a "metamaterial" with properties not found in nature and may be the first organic metamaterial with mechanical meta-properties.
Provided/Luo Lab. Hydrogels made in the form of the letters D, N and A collapse into a liquid-like state on their own but return to the original shape when surrounded by water

Laser Pulse Controlled Petahertz Transistors could become 10 thousand times faster than todays transistors

A discovery that promises transistors – the fundamental part of all modern electronics – controlled by laser pulses that will be 10,000 faster than today’s fastest transistors has been made by a Georgia State University professor and international researchers.

There are three basic types of solids: metals, semiconductors, used in today’s transistors, and insulators – also called dielectrics.

Dielectrics do not conduct electricity and get damaged or break down if too high of fields of energy are applied to them. The scientists discovered that when dielectrics were given very short and intense laser pulses, they start conducting electricity while remaining undamaged.

The fastest time a dielectric can process signals is on the order of 1 femtosecond – the same time as the light wave oscillates and millions of times faster than the second handle of a watch jumps.

Dielectric devices hold promise to allow for much faster computing than possible today with semiconductors. Such a device can work at 1 petahertz, while the processor of today’s computer runs slightly faster than at 3 gigahertz.

“Now we can fundamentally have a device that works 10 thousand times faster than a transistor that can run at 100 gigahertz,” Stockman said. “This is a field effect, the same type that controls a transistor. The material becomes conductive as a very high electrical field of light is applied to it, but dielectrics are 10,000 times faster than semiconductors.”

Simultaneous attosecond absorption and streaking spectroscopy.

Nature - Optical-field-induced current in dielectrics

December 05, 2012

SkyCity waiting on water, electricity and transportation infrastructure to the site and further design work

A translated report from Soufun news in China.

(H/T to reader Daniel Biri)


-The lot has just been purchased at ~390 Million Yuan. But no construction prep work

- The geotechnical survey and environmental review has been completed, but there is still a pending audit by a government agency

- The city government is still working on transportation, services and infrastructure to the site. The project will not be approve unless these work has been completed. (otherwise, you'll have a tower has no water, electricity or transportation)

- The design work is still going on, and it has not been approved either internally or externally

- The project engineer has said on camera, that the project will NOT start now, nor will it be completed 3 month from now.


Broad Group can pre-fabricate, but they can't start building (assembling?) until all approvals are cleared.

Another translated document seems to indicate that their are some design discussions related to fire safety and the time needed for an emergency evacuation

Also in the past projects, since both the owner and fabricator are the same company. They are the doing the inspections themselves, this time, perhaps government might institute a third party for on site inspection. If that's the case, then 90 day construction time is pipe dream. Third party reviewer don't care about schedule, but do care about their behind when they stamp the inspection papers."

There is a skyscraper discussion forum that is tracking the project

Spacex awarded two EELV Missions from the Air force

he United States Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center has awarded SpaceX two Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV)-class missions: DSCOVR (Deep Space Climate Observatory) and STP-2 (Space Test Program 2). To be launched on SpaceX's Falcon launch vehicles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, the awards mark the first EELV-class missions awarded to the company to date.

The DSCOVR mission will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 and is currently slated for late 2014, while STP-2 will be launched aboard the Falcon Heavy and is targeted for mid-2015. Both are expected to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Both missions fall under Orbital/Suborbital Program-3 (OSP-3), an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the US Air Force Rocket Systems Launch Program. OSP-3 represents the first Air Force contract designed to provide new entrants to the EELV program an opportunity to demonstrate their vehicle capabilities.

Rail volumes and Manufacturing Index show China's economy is expanding

1. Business Insider - A Great Graphic comes from Also Sprach Analyst. The first chart shows various modes of goods transportation and China's GDP. The best fit is with freight traffic.

The second chart focuses on the simply the rail cargo volume. The volume of China's rail freight in October was 3.2% lower on a year-over-year basis (was -5.4% in September), but on a month-over-month basis increased by 5.8%.

The key take away is that the rail traffic lends credence to the recent series of data that suggest the world's second largest economy is stabilized after slowing for the past seven quarter. Globally speaking this is a small offset to the prospects of weaker US, Europe and Japanese growth profiles.

Saudi Arabia plans for 18 gigawatt from nuclear by 2032

Bloomberg - Saudi Arabia plans to produce 18 gigawatts of electricity from nuclear plants and 9 gigawatts from wind energy by 2032, Eqtisadiah daily reported, citing an official at the agency developing the country’s renewable energy program.

The country also plans to generate 1,000 megawatt from geothermal energy sources and 3,000 megawatt by turning waste into a fuel, Khalid al-Suliman, vice president at the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy, told the Riyadh- based newspaper.

Sky City and Other Planned Skyscrapers

Emirates247 -
China plans to build the Sky City skyscraper.
Standing 838 metres high, 10 metres higher than Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest tower, Sky City in Changsha, China, will be built in mere 90 days and completed by March 2013.

The tower, the company says, will be able to withstand earthquakes of up to 9.0 magnitude, will be fireproof resistant for up to three hours and have 10 fire escape routes for evacuation of a floor within 15 minutes during an emergency.

Sky City will also have 15cm thermal insulators, four paned windows, fresh air heat recovery system, non-electric air conditioners, cooling-heating power system and LED lighting.

Last month at a meeting of the Council for Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in Shanghai, Adrian Smith, who worked on the design of Burj Khalifa and is currently working on the one-kilometre-high Kingdom Tower, Saudi Arabia, said that rapid urbanisation in China would fuel major expansion in tall buildings.

William Baker, a structural engineer at Skidmore, Owings and Merrill who worked with Adrian Smith on designing the system that allowed Burj Khalifa to be built, told in September that the buttressed core design of Burj Khalifa can be used to build structures even taller than the world’s tallest tower.

“It’s totally feasible to build much taller than even the one-kilometre high Kingdom Tower, which is expected to be completed by mid-2017. We could easily do a kilometer. We could easily do a mile,” he said.

Zhang Yue, Chief Executive Officer, Broad Sustainable Building has said he plans build at a two-kilometre high, 636-floor tower.

China's and India's Navy of 2020 and the US Navy compared

Economist magazine - By 2020 China's navy is expected to have 73 “principal combatants” (big warships) and 78 submarines, 12 of them nuclear-powered.

India has operated two aircraft-carriers since the 1960s, and aims to have three carrier groups operational by 2020, as part of a fleet that by 2022 would have around 160 ships and 400 aircraft, making it one of the world’s five biggest navies. Like China, it also hopes to acquire a full “nuclear triad”—by adding sea-based missiles to its nuclear deterrent. While China has been testing the waters to its south and south-west, India’s navy has been looking east, partly to follow India’s trade links. India fears Chinese “strategic encirclement”. Similarly, China looks askance at India’s expanding defence ties with America, South-East Asia, Japan and South Korea.

There are more than 436 ships believed to be in active service with the United States Navy, on reserve, or under construction, based on public reports.

There are currently 10 aircraft carriers, 22 cruisers, 62 destroyers, 28 frigates, 3 littoral combat ships, 9 amphibious assault ships, 2 amphibious command ships, 9 amphibious transport docks, 12 dock landing ships, 53 attack submarines, 14 ballistic missile submarines, 4 guided missile submarines, 14 mine countermeasures ships, 11 patrol boats, and 1 technical research ship.

December 04, 2012

Nested Thermal Design would save on heating and cooling costs

Changes to home construction design could result in 80% energy savings in Canada and other cold weather countries. Space heating is the largest single contributor to residential energy use in Canada at 60% of the total. Minimizing envelope heat losses is one approach to reducing this percentage.

“In the winter, you could get savings by living in a smaller space, period,” says Richman. “But you can’t just heat one room, because there is no insulation between one room and the outside or other rooms. To do it really well, you need to insulate the room and then insulate the whole house. As we explain it, zonal heating is just a house within a house, or a box within a box.”

The nested thermal envelope design has two key components. First, the home must be divided into two different zones; the perimeter and the core. The core is the home’s main living area, for example, the kitchen, the living room and bedrooms. The perimeter is those less often used rooms, such as a formal dining room, sunrooms and secondary bathrooms. Secondly, the home must have a small heating unit that cycles heat from the perimeter into the core during the winter season. The heat pump funnels heat lost to the perimeter back into the core of the home, before it escapes the perimeter and is lost to the exterior of the home.

To take full advantage of the design, the home’s core must be set at a reasonable temperature, for example 21 degrees, while the perimeter stays at 5 degrees. It is important to note that living in the core of the home is only necessary during the colder months, when the desire to save money on heating costs is at its height and when the disparity between indoor and outdoor temperatures is greatest.

Schematic of NTED™ building design showing nested thermal zones.

Energy and Buildings - Nested Thermal Envelope Design construction: Achieving significant reductions in heating energy use

Effects from the Remastered Star Trek

More than Economic Growth is Needed to Address Hunger in India and Asia

New research on India’s rural poor has revealed that the country’s impressive economic growth has not made a significant dent in its low levels of adult and child nutrition.

The team from the Universities of Manchester, Delhi, Cape Coast and Arkansas say the large sector of the economy relying on low wages and physically demanding work hinders improvement in nutrition across rural areas.

Policies which empower women through better education and employment opportunities are key to reduce the number of undernourished children they add.

“On child malnutrition, the situation is far worse: India has one of the worst levels of low birth weight, underweight and wasting among children in Asia despite its status as a major economic power.

“Our research has shown that these problems cannot be resolved alone by increasing productivity and economic growth.

He added: “For adults it’s the type of employment which tends to result in these lower BMI figures.

“Unemployment, low pay and reliance on physically demanding work are to blame- and increasing productivity in these sectors changes little.

“But creating more professionals and managers is far from an easy option for a majority of the poor as they lack skills and education and cannot overcome structural barriers that are so pervasive.

“Extensive provision of health insurance and better infrastructure are also likely to reduce the temporary nutritional deprivation of children.

Here is a 1 page pdf summary of the research

Animation of Robotic Mining Truck Operation

Boosting Heat Transfer With Nanoglue

A team of interdisciplinary researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has developed a new method for significantly increasing the heat transfer rate across two different materials. Results of the team’s study, published in the journal Nature Materials, could enable new advances in cooling computer chips and lighting-emitting diode (LED) devices, collecting solar power, harvesting waste heat, and other applications.

By sandwiching a layer of ultrathin “nanoglue” between copper and silica, the research team demonstrated a four-fold increase in thermal conductance at the interface between the two materials. Less than a nanometer—or one billionth of a meter—thick, the nanoglue is a layer of molecules that form strong links with the copper (a metal) and the silica (a ceramic), which otherwise would not stick together well. This kind of nanomolecular locking improves adhesion, and also helps to sync up the vibrations of atoms that make up the two materials which, in turn, facilitates more efficient transport of heat particles called phonons. Beyond copper and silica, the research team has demonstrated their approach works with other metal-ceramic interfaces.

Nature Materials - Bonding-induced thermal conductance enhancement at inorganic heterointerfaces using nanomolecular monolayers

'4-D' transistor is preview of future computers

A new type of transistor shaped like a Christmas tree has arrived just in time for the holidays, but the prototype won't be nestled under the tree along with the other gifts.

"It's a preview of things to come in the semiconductor industry," said Peide "Peter" Ye, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

Researchers from Purdue and Harvard universities created the transistor, which is made from a material that could replace silicon within a decade. Each transistor contains three tiny nanowires made not of silicon, like conventional transistors, but from a material called indium-gallium-arsenide. The three nanowires are progressively smaller, yielding a tapered cross section resembling a Christmas tree.

The research builds on previous work in which the team created a 3-D structure instead of conventional flat transistors. The approach could enable engineers to build faster, more compact and efficient integrated circuits and lighter laptops that generate less heat than today's.

Dance of quantum tornadoes

A quantum fluid trapped on top of a semiconductor chip can be used to measure movements to astonishing precision.

Tornado-like vortexes can be produced in bizarre fluids which are controlled by quantum mechanics, completely unlike normal liquids. New research published today in the journal Nature Communications demonstrates how massed ranks of these quantum twisters line up in rows, and paves the way for engineering quantum circuits and chips measuring motion ultra-precisely.

The destructive power of rampaging tornadoes defeats the human ability to control them. A Cambridge team has managed to create and control hundreds of tiny twisters on a semiconductor chip. By controlling where electrons move and how they interact with light the team created a marriage of electrons and photons that form a new quantum particle called a ‘polariton’.

Nature Communications - Geometrically locked vortex lattices in semiconductor quantum fluids

Dirac electrons found in unique material

In a discovery that helps clear a new path toward quantum computers, University of Michigan physicists have found elusive Dirac electrons in a superconducting material.

Quantum computers use atoms themselves to perform processing and memory tasks. They promise dramatic increases in computing power because of their ability to carry out scores of calculations at once. They could factor numbers dramatically faster than conventional computers, and would be game-changers for computer security.

The combination of properties the researchers identified in a shiny, black material called copper-doped bismuth selenide adds the material to an elite class that could serve as the silicon of the quantum era. Copper-doped bismuth selenide is a superconducting material.

Superconductors can—at cold enough temperatures—conduct electricity indefinitely from one kickstart of energy. They have no electrical resistance. Dirac electrons, named after the English physicist whose equation describes their behavior, are particles with such high energy that they straddle the realms of classical and quantum physics.

Physical Review Letters - Quantum Oscillations in the Topological Superconductor Candidate Cu0.25Bi2Se3

Elon Musk Talks about Interstellar Travel

New Scientist - Elon Musk talked about getting to Alpha Centauri (4 light years away).

With a nuclear thermal rocket you could definitely reach a tenth of the speed of light. It would take 40 years, though [to reach Alpha Centauri], which is a long time. You'd have to start off not too old if you wanted to see it.

There are some interesting things I've seen lately about warp drives. [Harold White's space warp experiments. Covered by NBF] You can't exceed the speed of light but you can warp space and effectively travel many times the speed of light. That's kind of exciting. People have found increasingly smarter ways of minimising the energy required [to warp space]. Before, you would need the mass-energy of Jupiter.

Sure Spacex would love to have a warp drive, but I'm not going to hold my breath on that one.

Samsung Galaxy S4 expected April of 2013 and a cheaper version of the Galaxy Note 2

Slashgear - SamMobile reports that their sources have said a new device known internally as “Project J” will be announced in April of next year, and they say it’s the Galaxy S IV, which is currently rumored to come with a 5-inch 1080p display, and quad-core processor, a couple gigabytes of RAM, and a 13MP camera.

The same sources also point to a cheaper Galaxy Note II to launch in Europe and will have lower specs than the current Note II. It’s said that the device won’t come with a stylus and no AMOLED display technology either. Furthermore, a competitor to ASUS’ Transformer tablet series is also rumored to be on the way from Samsung. It’s said that the company wants to bring a 13.3-inch tablet to the market with QWERTY keyboard dock accessory. However, no other details were given about the possible tablet.

Giant Robotic Mining Trucks reduce staff from 10 to 5 per truck

IBTimes - Mining giant BHP will pilot test the use of robot trucks at ts Jimblebar iron ore mine in Pilbara. The company will use by late 2013 between 12 and 15 automated Caterpillar trucks, BHP head of Iron Ore and Coal Marcus Randolph disclosed.

By trying the robot trucks, BHP would follow rival Rio Tinto which had pioneered in the area of automated trucks. Rio has 10 driverless trucks running at its Junction South East mine in Pilbara. Rio said it plans to expand its Komatsu trucks fleet to 150 over the next four years as well as put in place driverless trains.

Despite the high cost of such equipment, the expenses are worth it because of the robot truck's lower rate of error, improved productivity and lesser manpower cost. Mr Randolph estimated that about 10 employees are needed by miners for every manual truck they operate, but the number could be halved by tapping technology.

December 03, 2012

3D Printer can print up to 238 pound objects

Wired - The 3-D printing industry is on track to be a $3.1 billion business by 2016 and the innovations on display this week show its foundation is growing — both in revenue and in physical print size.

The big news out of Euromold is really big — a 3-D printer so large that it requires a palette jack to unload. The newest 3-D printer from Objet combines their world-class accuracy (16 micron/0.0006 inch layer thickness) and the ability to create models with 14 materials in one print job with extraordinary size. The new Objet 1000 is named for its 1000 x 800 x 500 mm (39.3 x 31.4 x 19.6 inches) print area which is over three times the size of competitive printers. To put this in perspective, the Objet 1000 holds over 238 pounds of resin to print with, more than some 3-D printers weigh.

Size matters in 3-D printing. An oversized build chamber, along with print materials that come close to that of mass-production counterparts, means engineers can apply additive fabrication to new classes of products. Instead of being limited to printing small components like a bike helmet or pedal, engineers can now print an entire bike frame in one shot.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 133

1. Atomic Insights - Fear of radiation has ruined far more lives than exposure to radiation

This fact should be stated loud and clear, right up front:

In every “nuclear disaster”. radiation injured few if any people, whereas overplayed FEAR of radiation had disastrous impact, ruining the lives of thousands. A recent study showed that people who refused to evacuate Chernobyl were happier and outlived the evacuees by 20 years, while the evacuees themselves were depressed and suicidal.

There is nothing else that is as central to the issue as that one fact. It should not be skewed by unreasonable premises. In addition, the impact of unwarranted fear of radiation has caused massive avoidable use of fossil fuels, to the detriment of people and the environment.

Ted Rockwell, November 26, 2012

2. Nuclear Diner - A new and novel idea for creating power for space travel was designed by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). They tested a mockup of the concept at the Nevada test site calling the test “Demonstration using Flattop Fissions (DUFF). The design uses heat pipes to transfer the heat from the reactor to a Stirling engine which then creates electricity that can power a spacecraft. Stirling engines have been under development at NASA for space missions for many years and provide high efficiency.

I began my career in space nuclear power and find this near direction for space power very exciting. In the past we focused on creating nuclear power systems in the kilowatt range. On the SP-100 program we were trying for a 100 kWe with the possibility of increasing to several hundred kW’s for the Star War’s program. I always worked as a systems engineer ensuring that the subsystems would work well together and that we would meet the launch, safety and mission requirements. This design is optimized for 10’s to a 100 watts of power which is the amount of power needed by most spacecraft.

Continential Resources estimates oil in place of 903 billion barrels for the Bakken Oil Formation

Bloomberg - Continental Resources Inc. (CLR), the largest owner of oil-drilling rights in the U.S. Bakken Shale, said the formation holds about 57 percent more crude than previously thought. The shares rose the most in more than three months.

The formation beneath North Dakota and Montana holds the equivalent of 903 billion barrels of so-called oil in place, compared with the company’s 2010 estimate of 577 billion, Oklahoma City-based Continental said in a statement today. The Bakken’s potential expanded after the company was the first to successfully tap a deeper geological layer of the Three Forks zone, according to the statement.

The breakthrough at the Charlotte 3-22H well represents the second exploration triumph in as many months for Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm. The company announced a discovery known as the South Central Oklahoma Oil Province, or SCOOP, on Oct. 9 that may add 1.8 billion barrels to Continental’s reserves in coming years.

Continental estimated in late 2010 that the Bakken field would eventually yield 24 billion barrels of oil equivalent (Boe), based on technology available at that time. This estimate included 20 billion barrels of oil and 4 billion Boe of natural gas, and assumed 577 billion barrels of original oil in place in the Bakken and TF1. With the addition of oil found in the lower Three Forks benches, which includes the TF2, TF3 and TF4, the Company now estimates the field has 903 billion barrels of original oil in place, a 57 percent increase.

"The successful completion of the Charlotte 3-22H is another step in our efforts to assess the productivity and reserve potential of the lower benches of the Three Forks which is one of the goals of our 2013 drilling program" said Jack Stark, Senior Vice President of Exploration. "The results are very encouraging and indicate there may be upside to our estimate of 24 billion Boe of recoverable reserves for the Bakken field."

Precisely engineered 3D Brain Tissue

Borrowing from microfabrication techniques used in the semiconductor industry, MIT and Harvard Medical School (HMS) engineers have developed a simple and inexpensive way to create three-dimensional brain tissues in a lab dish.The new technique yields tissue constructs that closely mimic the cellular composition of those in the living brain, allowing scientists to study how neurons form connections and to predict how cells from individual patients might respond to different drugs. The work also paves the way for developing bioengineered implants to replace damaged tissue for organ systems, according to the researchers.

Advanced Materials journal - Simple Precision Creation of Digitally Specified, Spatially Heterogeneous, Engineered Tissue Architectures

December 02, 2012

Carnival of Space 278

Top Selling tablets are Apple iPad, iPad Mini, Kindle Fire, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy

EETimes has FBR actual and estimated sales statistics for tablets for 2012 and 2013.

Apple will still maintain 55%-60% market share in tablets in 2012 and 2013.
1. Apple iPad
2. Apple iPad Mini

The next most popular tablets are
3. Kindle Fire (HD)
4. Google Nexus
5. Samsung Galaxy
6. Barnes and Noble Nook

The Microsoft Surface tablets are projected to compete for the 6th most popular position. The combined Microsoft tablet offerings should be around the Google Nexus level,

Lenovo will be a major challenge to Apple and Samsung in Smartphones

Wall Street Journal - China's Lenovo Group sold twice as many smartphones as Apple in the third quarter in China and moved closer to overtaking Samsung as the country's market leader. China is widely expected to pass the U.S. as the world's biggest smartphone market this year.

"Lenovo's strength is that its China PC business is a cash cow that can fund the cost of its smartphone expansion," said Barclays managing director Kirk Yang. PC earnings allow Lenovo to focus its smartphone business on growth over profit for now, he said. Lenovo's China PC business had an operating margin of 5.9% in the latest quarter.

Explosive demand among first-time smartphone buyers in China and other emerging markets is changing the global market, creating opportunities for players other than Apple and Samsung to gain economies of scale. But fierce price competition for inexpensive smartphones means handset makers risk becoming chronically unprofitable.

Lenovo says its smartphone business is unprofitable, without disclosing the loss. But its market share in China, where the company sells most of its phones, soared to 15% in the third quarter from 1.7% a year earlier.

Even if Lenovo's smartphone business becomes profitable in China, pressure on its margins won't ease, analysts said, because prices of low-end phones are falling faster than expected.

The prices of entry-level smartphones in China have dropped from 40% to 50% in the past year, according to CLSA. More smartphones sold at about 1,000 yuan ($160) now come with larger screens, better cameras and more powerful processors than they used to. "The scary implication here is that these phones do not differ greatly in terms of quality and performance" from higher-priced branded smartphones, the report said.

Self healing Flash memory can last over 100 million cycles

IEEE Spectrum - Flash memory wears out after being programmed and erased about 10 000 times. That’s fine for a USB dongle that you’ll probably lose in a year, but not ideal for the solid-state drives of server farms. And the same problem keeps manufacturers from using flash to replace other types of computer memories. This month, at the 2012 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting, engineers from Macronix plan to report the invention of a self-healing NAND flash memory that survives more than 100 million cycles.

What’s more, that may not even be the real limit. “We do not know what would eventually cause the device to fail, since we have not seen the end-of-life signals yet,” says Hang‑Ting Lue, a project deputy director at Macronix, which is located in Hsinchu, Taiwan. To test for 1 billion cycles would take several months, he says

Hot Stuff: Current flowing through the memory cells’ gate heats and heals the oxide layers.

World PPP GDP will be over $100 trillion in 2014 per Penn World 7.1 Statistics

Penn World tables 7.1 has been released and has an internet forms interface which html, SAS and text file formats.

The data is up to 2010.

They have two methods for calculating China's PPP and have a result of 10.8 trillion or 11.7 trillion.

India's PPP GDP 2010 Penn World Tables 7.1 was 4.69 trillion while the IMF says 4.05 trillion. This was about 15.8% more than the IMF figure.

The IMF had estimated China's PPP GDP in 2010 at 10.1 trillion.

The Penn World statistics are a 7% or 15.8% increase over the IMF PPP values

Other economists calculate that China's IMF PPP GDP is underestimated by 70%.

The Penn World statistics would have the world achieving a total GDP PPP over $100 trillion in 2014. The IMF predicts this milestone will be achieved in 2016.

Smartphones move center stage in cars and personal drones

EETimes - Parrot, is a "universal receiver" that can link with any mobile phone. Parrot, based here, has developed what Seydoux describes as "a counterpart to a smartphone" that enhances voice quality for hands-free car phones while improving audio acoustics. A voice recognition feature provides access to the smartphone's address book.

Parrot's AR.Drone 2.0 captures photos and video via on-board HD camera offers live recording and streaming via Wi-Fi and can even execute 360-degree roll by simply hitting a button or by tilting a smartphone or tablet. Seydoux calls Parrot's toy drones “a new frontier for video games.”

In July, Parrot acquired SenseFly, a Switzerland-based drone company, allowing the French company to enter the ultra-light flying drone market for professional applications like mapping.

Meanwhile, Parrot also has developed a wireless headset featuring Bluetooth connectivity, active noise cancellation and near-field communications for Bluetooth pairing. Jawbone sensors allow the headset to be used for wireless conversations.

Parrot is now targeting markets beyond the phone and drones.
Last year, it acquired DiBcom, a French mobile TV chip company. Designing a system that works well with a smartphone is a priority for Parrot’s in-car system, but the company is willing to add features to regular handsets, including mobile TV, said Yannick Levy, a former DiBcom CEO and now executive vice president of Parrot’s digital tuner business unit.

A graphene/nanotube hybrid

A seamless graphene/nanotube hybrid created at Rice University may be the best electrode interface material possible for many energy storage and electronics applications.

Led by Rice chemist James Tour, researchers have successfully grown forests of carbon nanotubes that rise quickly from sheets of graphene to astounding lengths of up to 120 microns, according to a paper published today by Nature Communications. A house on an average plot with the same aspect ratio would rise into space.

That translates into a massive amount of surface area, the key factor in making things like energy-storing supercapacitors.

The Rice hybrid combines two-dimensional graphene, which is a sheet of carbon one atom thick, and nanotubes into a seamless three-dimensional structure. The bonds between them are covalent, which means adjacent carbon atoms share electrons in a highly stable configuration. The nanotubes aren’t merely sitting on the graphene sheet; they become a part of it.

Seven-atom rings (in red) at the transition from graphene to nanotube make a new hybrid material from Rice University a seamless conductor. The hybrid may be the best electrode interface material possible for many energy storage and electronics applications. (Credit: Tour Group/Rice University)

Nature Communications - A seamless three-dimensional carbon nanotube graphene hybrid material

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