December 22, 2012

500 phases of matter have been defined in a new classification system based on symmetry protected phases

Condensed matter physics – the branch of physics responsible for discovering and describing most of these phases – has traditionally classified phases by the way their fundamental building blocks – usually atoms – are arranged. The key is something called symmetry.

Using modern mathematics – specifically group cohomology theory and group super-cohomology theory – the researchers have constructed and classified the symmetry-protected phases in any number of dimensions and for any symmetries. Their new classification system will provide insight about these quantum phases of matter, which may in turn increase our ability to design states of matter for use in superconductors or quantum computers. Examples of symmetry-protected phases include some topological superconductors and topological insulators, which are of widespread immediate interest because they show promise for use in the coming first generation of quantum electronics.

To understand symmetry, imagine flying through liquid water in an impossibly tiny ship: the atoms would swirl randomly around you and every direction – whether up, down, or sideways – would be the same. The technical term for this is "symmetry" – and liquids are highly symmetric. Crystal ice, another phase of water, is less symmetric. If you flew through ice in the same way, you would see the straight rows of crystalline structures passing as regularly as the girders of an unfinished skyscraper. Certain angles would give you different views. Certain paths would be blocked, others wide open. Ice has many symmetries – every "floor" and every "room" would look the same, for instance – but physicists would say that the high symmetry of liquid water is broken.

Classifying the phases of matter by describing their symmetries and where and how those symmetries break is known as the Landau paradigm. More than simply a way of arranging the phases of matter into a chart, Landau’s theory is a powerful tool which both guides scientists in discovering new phases of matter and helps them grapple with the behaviours of the known phases. Physicists were so pleased with Landau’s theory that for a long time they believed that all phases of matter could be described by symmetries. That’s why it was an eye-opening experience when they discovered a handful of phases that Landau couldn’t describe.

New states contain a new kind of order: topological order. Topological order is a quantum mechanical phenomenon: it is not related to the symmetry of the ground state, but instead to the global properties of the ground state’s wave function. Therefore, it transcends the Landau paradigm, which is based on classical physics concepts.

String net theory of light and electrons

Science - etry-Protected Topological Orders in Interacting Bosonic Systems

Order Parameters, Broken Symmetry, and Topology - Online introduction to the theoretical framework used to study the bewildering variety of phases in condensed-matter physics. They emphasize the importance of the breaking of symmetries, and develop the idea of an order parameter through several examples. They discuss elementary excitations and the topological theory of defects.

December 21, 2012

Zspace interactive holographic 3D display

Infinite Z has a virtual holographic 3D display and pen input device that goes by the name zSpace. This technology combines stereoscopic images with infrared cameras that actually track head and hand movements to construct a more realistic holographic effect.

For the zSpace illusion to work, you need to wear a pair of special glasses. Not only do the glasses perform the required image separation for stereoscopy, but they also have embedded infrared reflectors to help the system track your head. This allows you to move your head so that you can view a hovering object from different perspectives. The screen actually changes what is being displayed based on where you’re looking at it. This innovation allows the illusion of three dimensions to work much more effectively. The system has real-world uses now in architecture and medicine.

The zSpace is designed for professionals working in fields like 3D modeling, so it is priced accordingly. It’s available for $3,995 and people enrolled in Infinite Z’s developer program can buy a device for only $1,500.

“Virtual Holographic 3-D,” also lets you manipulate virtual objects as if they really were floating just inches in front of you. The special stylus connected to the display also contains sensors that allow its movement to be tracked in three dimensions. You can use the stylus to “grab” parts of the virtual image in front of you and move them around in 3-D space.

Graphene sheets coated with nanowires made into flexible solar cells

MIT researchers have produced a new kind of photovoltaic cell based on sheets of flexible graphene coated with a layer of nanowires. The approach could lead to low-cost, transparent and flexible solar cells that could be deployed on windows, roofs or other surfaces.

Illustration shows the layered structure of the new device, starting with a flexible layer of graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon material. A layer of polymer is bonded to that, and then a layer of zinc-oxide nano wires (shown in magenta), and finally a layer of a material that can extract energy from sunlight, such as quantum dots or a polymer-based material. Illustration courtesy of the research team

Nanoletters - Graphene Cathode-Based ZnO Nanowire Hybrid Solar Cells

DARPA challenge to find innovative approaches to adaptive, software-based radio communications

ARPA seeks innovative approaches that ensure robust communications in such congested and contested environments.

The DARPA Spectrum Challenge is a competition for teams to create software-defined radio protocols that best use communication channels in the presence of other users and interfering signals.

Using a standardized radio hardware platform, the team that finds the best strategies for guaranteeing successful communication in the presence of other competing radios will win. In addition to bragging rights for the winning teams, one team could win as much as $150,000.

High priority radios in the military and civilian sectors must be able to operate regardless of the ambient electromagnetic environment, to avoid disruption of communications and potential loss of life. Rapid response operations, such as disaster relief, further motivate the desire for multiple radio networks to effectively share the spectrum without requiring direct coordination or spectrum preplanning. Consequently, the need to provide robust communications in the presence of interfering signals is of great importance.

Progress on the Vortex Rocket Engine

Orbitec has flown a radical new engine technology that promises to cut the size, weight and therefore the cost of putting a rocket – and payload – into space.

Regular rocket engines get incredibly hot, reaching temperatures upwards of 3,000C (5,400F) or more, hot enough to melt the metal chamber in which the rocket fuel mixes with oxygen and burns. At these extremes, even rockets with sidewalls made of heat-resistant superalloys would fail catastrophically.

Orbitec’s alternative approach keeps the hot burning gases away from the chamber surfaces altogether. The company’s patented designs create a cyclonic swirl, or vortex, of fuel and oxygen that holds the searing gases and fumes in the very centre of the cylindrical combustion chamber, away from the vulnerable sidewalls.

“Our vortex generator eliminates the high temperatures at the inner surfaces of the engine,” says Martin Chiaverini, principal propulsion engineer at the firm. “You can touch the exterior during lab-test firings and not get burned.”

The vortex, or swirl, is produced by placing the oxidiser nozzles at the base of the combustion chamber and aiming them tangentially to the inner surface of its curving walls. This produces an outer vortex of cool gases that spiral up the walls forming a protective, cooling barrier. When this meets the top of the chamber it is mixed with rocket fuel and forced inward and down, forming a second, inner, descending vortex in the centre of the chamber that is concentrated like a tornado

Parabolic Arc covered the October launch.

India has nuclear plant delays and higher costs and Japan shifting to pro-nuclear policies

1. Commercial operation of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project has been delayed to January, 2013 It is India's first 1,000MW first unit.

2. Russia has told India that Kudankulam nuclear power plants 3 and 4 would cost “double”, after New Delhi decided that the next two reactors would come under the new civil nuclear liability law, and not be covered by the agreement on Kudankulam 1 and 2.

Russia extending credit lines worth $3.2 billion for Kudankulam 3 and 4 early this year, initial costs had been estimated to be between $ 6 billion and $ 7 billion. This figure could now double.

Moscow had urged New Delhi to recognise Kudankulam 3 and 4 as being grandfathered under the agreement for Kudankulam 1 and 2, and argued that the inter-governmental agreement of 2008, which firms up plans for setting up four additional reactors, was done before the liability law.

Liquid Metal Made into Wires That Stretch Eight Times Their Original Length

Researchers from North Carolina State University have created conductive wires that can be stretched up to eight times their original length while still functioning. The wires can be used for everything from headphones to phone chargers, and hold potential for use in electronic textiles.

To make the wires, researchers start with a thin tube made of an extremely elastic polymer and then fill the tube with a liquid metal alloy of gallium and indium, which is an efficient conductor of electricity.

The tube, filled with liquid metal, can be stretched many times its original length.

World Bank East Asia and Pacific Economic Update

The World Bank’s latest East Asia and Pacific Economic Update released today, projects the Asia region will grow at 7.5 percent in 2012, lower than the 8.3 percent registered in 2011, but set to recover to 7.9 percent in 2013.

With weak demand for exports from global markets, domestic demand has remained the main driver of growth for most economies of the region. The region’s economic performance in 2012, the report says, was affected by China’s economic slowdown.

China’s growth is projected to reach 7.9 percent in 2012, 1.4 percentage point lower than last year’s 9.3 percent and the lowest growth rate since 1999. Weak exports and the government’s efforts to cool down the overheating housing sector slowed down China’s economy in 2012, but recovery has set in the final months of the year. In 2013, China’s economy is expected to grow at 8.4 percent, fueled by fiscal stimulus and the faster implementation of large investment projects.

Asia contributed almost 40 percent of global growth in 2012, and should have a similar share in 2013.

World Bank projections -
China 2013 GDP Growth 8.4%
China 2014 GDP Growth 8.0%
Developing East Asia (excluding China) 2011 GDP growth 4.4% [Actual]
Developing East Asia (excluding China) 2012 GDP growth 5.6% [Estimate]
Developing East Asia (excluding China) 2012 GDP growth 5.7% [Projection]
Developing East Asia (excluding China) 2012 GDP growth 5.8% [Projection]

Continuing strong performances by Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines will boost developing East Asia, excluding China.

Gangnam Style made it to 1 billion Youtube views

Psy's Gangnam style video has made it to the one billion view mark on Youtube.

Lipdubs, spoofs and commentaries of Gangnam Style are seen an estimated 20 million times a day.

Here is another parody - NASA Johnson style

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Fusion Project has solved its arcing problem and a leak

In a December 3, 2012 Lawrencevill Plasma Physics (LPP) status report - Two shots with no arcing indicate the problem is solved, although more proof is needed. A leak held up key tests while we implement a solution. Analysis of photos taken in October confirms our understanding of plasmoid structure.

Arcing appears to be solved for now, but a leak causes delay. A twitter update indicates the leak was fixed.

In May, 2012, the LPP plan for the next 12 months was laid out.

To gain higher yield and to attain “feasibility” the following steps are being done over the course of the next year (2013):

1) The “teeth that chew the sheath” tungsten crown to regularize the filaments - 10-100x yield
2) Full power output of Capacitors and to ‘Imitate’ the heavier mixture of pB11 by using Deuterium/Nitrogen.
3) Shorter Electrodes, slower run down, more fill gas.
4) New Raytheon switches for more Current from capacitors - 10x yield.
5) Switch to pB11 (incrementally higher percentage from the D/N mix) - 15x yield.

Goal: 30 kJ* gross fusion energy per shot proves feasibility of a positive net power output Generator using aneutronic fuel!

*A 5MW production reactor would have about 66 kJ gross fusion yield per shot*

Outline of the biology in mice that live up to 60% longer

The metabolic characteristics of long-lived mice are described in a paper in the Frontiers in genetic aging.

Mice lacking Growth Hormone (GH) or GH receptors show numerous symptoms of delayed aging, are partially protected from age-related diseases, and outlive their normal siblings by 30–65% depending on genetic background, sex, and diet composition. Importantly, many of the metabolic features of long-lived mutant mice described in this article have been associated with extended human longevity. Comparisons between centenarians and elderly individuals from the same population and between the offspring of exceptionally long-lived people and their partners indicate that reduced insulin, improved insulin sensitivity, increased adiponectin, and reduced pro-inflammatory markers consistently correlate with improved life expectancy.

Genetic suppression of insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) can extend longevity in worms, insects, and mammals. In laboratory mice, mutations with the greatest, most consistent, and best documented positive impact on lifespan are those that disrupt growth hormone (GH) release or actions. These mutations lead to major alterations in IIS but also have a variety of effects that are not directly related to the actions of insulin or insulin-like growth factor I. Long-lived GH-resistant GHR-KO mice with targeted disruption of the GH receptor gene, as well as Ames dwarf (Prop1df) and Snell dwarf (Pit1dw) mice lacking GH (along with prolactin and TSH), are diminutive in size and have major alterations in body composition and metabolic parameters including increased subcutaneous adiposity, increased relative brain weight, small liver, hypoinsulinemia, mild hypoglycemia, increased adiponectin levels and insulin sensitivity, and reduced serum lipids. Body temperature is reduced in Ames, Snell, and female GHR-KO mice. Indirect calorimetry revealed that both Ames dwarf and GHR-KO mice utilize more oxygen per gram (g) of body weight than sex- and age-matched normal animals from the same strain. They also have reduced respiratory quotient, implying greater reliance on fats, as opposed to carbohydrates, as an energy source. Differences in oxygen consumption (VO2) were seen in animals fed or fasted during the measurements as well as in animals that had been exposed to 30% calorie restriction or every-other-day feeding. However, at the thermoneutral temperature of 30°C, VO2 did not differ between GHR-KO and normal mice. Thus, the increased metabolic rate of the GHR-KO mice, at a standard animal room temperature of 23°C, is apparently related to increased energy demands for thermoregulation in these diminutive animals. We suspect that increased oxidative metabolism combined with enhanced fatty acid oxidation contribute to the extended longevity of GHR-KO mice.

A giant tooth from the Late Cretaceous means either a titanosaur 30% bigger than any other or a large toothed dinosaur

A dinosaur tooth found in Argentina that is 32% longer than the tooth for the biggest sauropod suggests either a very big dinosaur or one with unusually large teeth. The largest had been thought to be 30 meters long and weighed as much as 80 tons. The weights were recently adjusted lower to about 23 tons with new analysis.

The new dinosaur might be up to 40 meters long if the body was proportional to the tooth.

The tooth MML-Pv 1030 comes from the Upper Cretaceous (middle Campanian–lower Maastrichtian) strata of the Allen Formation at Salitral de Santa Rosa, Río Negro, Argentina and is the biggest titanosaur tooth yet described. The specimen is a cylindrical chisel-like tooth, its length is 75 mm, mesiodistally 15 mm and labiolingually 11 mm. The wear facet is single on the lingual side of the tooth, which has an oval outline with a low angle (10°) with respect to the axial axis of the tooth. This tooth is 32% greater in length than the longest tooth registered in a titanosaurid (Nemegtosaurus), and twice the tooth size of taxa as Tapuiasaurus, Bonitasaura and Pitekunsaurus. Detailed descriptions of the tooth morphology and a highlight of comparative relationships among known titanosaur teeth are provided. Finally, different aspects are suggested related to morphology and feeding behavior.

December 20, 2012

Perceived shocking developments and actual disruption and world impacting developments

This site has discussed the normal technology adoption cycle which takes years to decades for something new to scale up would normally provide some time for acclimation. People have coping mechanisms to prevent psychological shock and to help them prevent admitting that their world view was wrong.

People will also not bother to be precise about their claims and statements.

The moon landings were shocking to many people and then the effort to go to the moon was stopped. Quite a large number of people would then claim that the landings were faked. The lack of follow up also lets them dismiss space development as retro-futurism.

There are working flying cars and some are sold in special legal categories and a likely modest commercial success will come with the Terrafugia Transition. However, the small volume will let people dismiss this development. Even if flying cars had total units deployed of 500,000 this would not be considered the "promised future". 500,000 would still be more than the current world market for small planes. The volumes would be compared against cars which have 1 billion deployed. They would also need to be used for regular day to day commuting to be perceived as approaching what people hoped for.

If DARPA was successful with the development of its "flying humvee" with some robotic flight capabilities and if there was development of pocket airports then that could bring about a revolution in flight. The pocket airports and short takeoff and highly fuel efficient light planes (especially with UAV robotic control) would enable a societally impacting usage of air taxis.

Dwave Systems ranks high in patent quality, impact and originality

IEEE Spectrum publishes a ranking of company patent power. The patent benchmarking takes into account not only the size of organizations’ patent portfolios but also the quality, as reflected in characteristics such as growth, impact, originality, and general applicability. DWave Systems (adiabatic quantum computers) ranks 4th behind IBM, HP and Fujitsu in conmputer system patents.

High Speed Rail in China are an enabler of Super City Clusters

China's High Speed Rail

Morgan Stanley has a 64 page analysis of high speed rail in China.

China's complete national coverage for its HSR network makes the economic case different than one off HSR lines in California. HSR is about half the cost of a comparable air ticket. There are environmental benefits. China does have very high passenger usage on its lines. This is different that rail usage cases in the USA.

The China HSR system will span 30,000 kilometers, connect more than 250 cities and regions with a total population of about 700 million, mobilize 4 billion travelers per year, and add 1,600 billion kilometers to China’s domestic passenger throughput annually (i.e., four times the total domestic passenger throughput in Japan today) by 2020.

China's rail passenger numbers rose 4.6 percent to 1.7 billion through November, according to the ministry. The numbers have climbed because of the opening of new lines and the easing of safety concerns following a fatal crash last year.

Rail demand in China is progressively growing and expected to more than triple to five billion passengers a year by 2020. The high-speed network is not only expected to ease congestion on conventional lines but will also have a positive impact on freight transportation, and boost productivity throughout the economy.

As the China HSR system spreads out and ramps up capacity, regional economic dynamics will change with it. We believe the HSR’s most significant geographical economic impact will be the creation of connected metropolitan areas, or the super-city clusters (SCCs), because of its mass-transporting capacity at very high ground speeds (about 250 to 350 kilometers per hour), basically significantly multiplying a comuter's traveling distance within a fixed time period. Traveling to neighboring cities on HSR will take the same amount of time as traveling across a large city in a car. Eventually we believe that cities within the same cluster, connected by HSR grid, will no longer be conventional stand-alone cities. They will become like huge business-and-life districts in a very large metropolitan area, with active economic interactions.

Will the China HSR project be sustainable? This is clearly a valid question to ask. The operating capital required for such a mega project will be substantial. Our transportation analyst Edward Xu and capital goods analyst Kate Zhu believe that on average every 1,000 kilometers of China HSR will require Rmb4.5 billion per year in operating cash to function (this includes maintenance, parts replacement, and day-to-day operational costs).

On the other hand, the operating revenue, based on our ticket price estimate (using the same per-thousand-kilometer price to per-capita GDP ratio on the eastern portion of the national grid), per-thousand kilometer revenue will be around Rmb6.5 billion per year. This translates into a national operating cash surplus of Rmb2 billion per year, which should be able to cover most, if not all, of the interest expenses.

We believe regional jets will have limited market potential in China and will do well only in those regions where the HSR will not reach, such as the northwest and southwest.

High Speed Rail Benefits, Costs, Criticism and Responses

Invensysrail provides an analysis of high speed rail (HSR).

HSR investment has commonly resulted in:
* reduced travel times;
* reduced congestion on established modes of transport;
* improved access to markets and commerce;
* decreased carbon footprint in comparison to road and air transport;
* and creating industry growth and export opportunities

Wikipedia - Very few high-speed trains consume diesel or other fossil fuels but the power stations that provide electric trains with power can consume fossil fuels. In Japan and France, with very extensive high speed rail networks, a large proportion of electricity comes from nuclear power. On the Eurostar, which primarily runs off the French grid, emissions from traveling by train from London to Paris are 90% lower than by flying. Even using electricity generated from coal or oil, high speed trains are significantly more fuel-efficient per passenger per kilometer traveled than the typical automobile because of economies of scale in generator technology.

Reduced travel times.
* HSR offers faster net travel times than conventional road, rail and air travel between distances of approximately 150 kilometres (km) and 800 km.
* For distances shorter than 150 km, the competitive advantage of HSR over conventional rail is decreased drastically by station processing time and travel to
and from stations.
* For distances longer than 800 km, the higher speed of air travel compensates for slow airport processing times and long trips to and from airports.

December 19, 2012

Cleveland Clinics lists of top ten medical innovations 2011, 2012 and 2013

The Cleveland Clinic lists Top 10 Medical Innovations that will have a major impact on improving patient care within the next year for 2013.

The list is made up of devices, including a handheld optical scan for melanoma; drugs; diagnostic tests, such as 3D mammography; and a government program that financially rewards patients for improving their health.

1. Bariatric Surgery for Control of Diabetes
Exercise and diet alone are not effective for treating severe obesity or Type 2 diabetes. Once a person reaches 100 pounds or more above his or her ideal weight, losing the weight and keeping it off for many years almost never happens.

While the medications we have for diabetes are good, about half of the people who take them are not able to control their disease. This can often lead to heart attack, blindness, stroke, and kidney failure.

Surgery for obesity, often called bariatric surgery, shrinks the stomach into a small pouch and rearranges the digestive tract so that food enters the small intestine at a later point than usual.

Over the years, many doctors performing weight-loss operations found that the surgical procedure would rid patients of Type 2 diabetes, oftentimes before the patient left the hospital.

Many diabetes experts now believe that weight-loss surgery should be offered much earlier as a reasonable treatment option for patients with poorly controlled diabetes —and not as a last resort.

2. Neuromodulation Device for Cluster and Migraine Headaches
The sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) nerve bundle — located behind the bridge of the nose — has been a specific target for the treatment of severe headache pain for many years.

Researchers have invented an on-demand patient-controlled stimulator for the SPG nerve bundle. This miniaturized implantable neurostimulator, the size of an almond, is placed through a minimally invasive surgical incision in the upper gum above the second molar.

3. Mass Spectrometry for Bacterial Identification
Even in this age of advanced medical technology, identification of bacteria growing in culture can still require days or weeks.

However, clinical microbiology laboratories throughout the world are now implementing new mass spectrometry technology to provide rapid organism identification that is more accurate and less expensive than current biochemical methods.

Using one of the two MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry systems currently available in the United States provides more accurate identification of bacteria in minutes — rather than days.

Magnonics is an extension of spintronics and relate to helix magnetism

Magnonics is an exciting extension of spintronics, promising novel ways of computing and storing magnetic data. What determines a material’s magnetic state is how electron spins are arranged (not everyday spin, but quantized angular momentum). If most of the spins point in the same direction, the material is ferromagnetic, like a refrigerator magnet. If half the spins point one way and half the opposite, the material is antiferromagnetic, with no everyday magnetism.

There are other kinds of magnetism. In materials where the electrons are “itinerant” – moving rapidly through the crystal lattice like a gas, so that their spins become strongly coupled to their motions – certain crystalline structures can cause the spins to precess collectively to the right or left in a helix, producing a state called helimagnetism.

Helimagnetism most often occurs at low temperature; increasing the heat collectively excites the spin structure and eventually destroys the order, relaxing the magnetism. In quantum calculations, such collective excitations are treated like particles (“quasiparticles”); excitations that disrupt magnetism are called magnons, or spin waves. There is a well developed theory of helimagnons, yet little is known experimentally about how helimagnetism forms or relaxes on time scales of less than a trillionth of a second, the scale on which magnetic interactions actually occur.

Carnival of Space 280

The Carnival of Space 280 is up at Starry Critters

Revealing Hidden Black Holes

A search using archival data from previous Chandra observations of a sample of 62 nearby galaxies has shown that 37 of the galaxies, including NGC 3627, contain X-ray sources in their centers. Most of these sources are likely powered by central supermassive black holes. The survey, which also used data from the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey, found that seven of the 37 sources are new supermassive black hole candidates.

‘quantum spin liquid,’ which could have applications in new computer memory storage

MIT researchers have demonstrated experimentally the existence of a fundamentally new kind of magnetic behavior, adding to the two previously known states of magnetism.

Ferromagnetism — the simple magnetism of a bar magnet or compass needle — has been known for centuries. In a second type of magnetism, antiferromagnetism, the magnetic fields of the ions within a metal or alloy cancel each other out. In both cases, the materials become magnetic only when cooled below a certain critical temperature.

The Quantum Spin Liquid (QSL) is a solid crystal, but its magnetic state is described as liquid: Unlike the other two kinds of magnetism, the magnetic orientations of the individual particles within it fluctuate constantly, resembling the constant motion of molecules within a true liquid.

MIT physicists grew this pure crystal of herbertsmithite in their laboratory. This sample, which took 10 months to grow, is 7 mm long (just over a quarter-inch) and weighs 0.2 grams. Image: Tianheng Han

DARPA Robot can follow a human leader, take verbal commands and recover from roll

The Legged Squad Support System (LS3) four-legged robot has been operating at an outdoors testing ground.

DARPA’s LS3 program demonstrated new advances in the robot’s control, stability and maneuverability, including "Leader Follow" decision making, enhanced roll recovery, exact foot placement over rough terrain, the ability to maneuver in an urban environment, and verbal command capability.

So it has many of the capabilities of a dog. Follow a person, take simple verbal commands and roll over.

Business Card VChip brings accurate, cheap, and portable blood testing everywhere

The V-chip is the size of a business card and can test for 50 measures (like insulin and other blood proteins, cholesterol, and even signs of viral or bacterial infection all at the same time) from one drop of blood.

The V-Chip could make it possible to bring tests to the bedside, remote areas, and other types of point-of-care needs.

VChip aka volumetric bar-chart chip. Photo credit: Lidong Qin and Yujun Song.

Quantum Spin liquid can form in a crystalline structure

NIST has confirmed long-standing suspicions among physicists that electrons in a crystalline structure called a kagome (kah-go-may) lattice can form a "spin liquid," a novel quantum state of matter in which the electrons' magnetic orientation remains in a constant state of change.

The research shows that a spin liquid state exists in Herbertsmithite—a mineral whose atoms form a kagome lattice, named for a simple weaving pattern of repeating triangles well-known in Japan. Kagome lattices are one of the simplest structures believed to possess a spin liquid state, and the new findings, revealed by neutron scattering, indeed show striking evidence for a fundamental prediction of spin liquid physics.

This image depicts magnetic effects within Herbertsmithite crystals, where green regions represent higher scattering of neutrons from NIST's Multi-Angle Crystal Spectrometer (MACS). Scans of typical highly-ordered magnetic materials show only isolated spots of green, while disordered materials show uniform color over the entire sample. The in-between nature of this data shows some order within the disorder, implying the unusual magnetic effects within a spin liquid.
Credit: NIST

High-pressure sound beam with 100 times sharper focus could one day be a scalpel

A carbon-nanotube-coated lens that converts light to sound can focus high-pressure sound waves to finer points than ever before. Researchers say it could lead to an invisible knife for noninvasive surgery.

Today focused sound waves blast apart kidney stones and prostate tumors. The tools work primarily by focusing sound waves tightly enough to generate heat.

"A major drawback of current strongly focused ultrasound technology is a bulky focal spot, which is on the order of several millimeters," Baac said. "A few centimeters is typical. Therefore, it can be difficult to treat tissue objects in a high-precision manner, for targeting delicate vasculature, thin tissue layer and cellular texture. We can enhance the focal accuracy 100-fold."

The team was able to concentrate high-amplitude sound waves to a speck just 75 by 400 micrometers (a micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter). Their beam can blast and cut with pressure, rather than heat.

With a new technique that uses tightly-focussed sound waves for micro-surgery, University of Michigan engineering researchers drilled a 150-micrometer hole in a confetti-sized artificial kidney stone. Image credit: Hyoung Won Baac

Nature Scientific Reports - Carbon-Nanotube Optoacoustic Lens for Focused Ultrasound Generation and High-Precision Targeted Therapy

Super benzene oligomers pave the way for new types of quantum computers

Scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) is routinely employed by physicists and chemists to capture atomic-scale images of molecules on surfaces. Now, an international team led by Christian Joachim and co-workers from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering has taken STM a step further: using it to identify the quantum states within ‘super benzene’ compounds using STM conductance measurements1. Their results provide a roadmap for developing new types of quantum computers based on information localized inside molecular bonds.

To gain access to the quantum states of hexabenzocoronene (HBC) — a flat aromatic molecule made of interlocked benzene rings — the researchers deposited it onto a gold substrate. According to team member We-Hyo Soe, the weak electronic interaction between HBC and gold is crucial to measuring the system’s ‘differential conductance’ — an instantaneous rate of current charge with voltage that can be directly linked to electron densities within certain quantum states.

After cooling to near-absolute zero temperatures, the team maneuvered its STM tip to a fixed location above the HBC target. Then, they scanned for differential conductance resonance signals at particular voltages. After detecting these voltages, they mapped out the electron density around the entire HBC framework using STM. This technique provided real-space pictures of the compound’s molecular orbitals — quantized states that control chemical bonding.

High-resolution microscopy reveals that a benzene-like molecule known as HBC has a quantized electron density around its ring framework (left). Theoretical calculations show that the observed quantum states change with different tip positions (right, upper/lower images, respectively).

Metamaterials Can Reduce Electrons’ Effective Mass to Nearly Zero

The field of metamaterials involves augmenting materials with specially designed patterns, enabling those materials to manipulate electromagnetic waves and fields in previously impossible ways. Now, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania have come up with a theory for moving this phenomenon onto the quantum scale, laying out blueprints for materials where electrons have nearly zero effective mass.

Their idea was born out of the similarities and analogies between the mathematics that govern electromagnetic waves — Maxwell’s Equations — and those that govern the quantum mechanics of electrons — Schrödinger’s Equations.

On the electromagnetic side, inspiration came from work the two researchers had done on metamaterials that manipulate permittivity, a trait of materials related to their reaction to electric fields. They theorized that, by alternating between thin layers of materials with positive and negative permittivity, they could construct a bulk metamaterial with an effective permittivity at or near zero. Critically, this property is only achieved when an electromagnetic wave passes through the layers head on, against the grain of the stack. This directional dependence, known as anisotropy, has practical applications.

The researchers saw parallels between this phenomenon and the electron transport behavior demonstrated in Leo Esaki’s Nobel Prize-winning work on superlattices in the 1970s: semiconductors constructed out of alternating layers of materials, much like the permittivity-altering metamaterial.

Physical Review B - Transformation electronics: Tailoring the effective mass of electrons

33.6 million electric bikes production expected for 2013 and start of 48 volt batteries for cars and electric bikes

Experimental signature of programmable quantum annealing last for up to 20 milliseconds

Arxiv - Experimental signature of programmable quantum annealing (12 pages) This work shows that Dwave Systems adiabatic quantum computing system is leveraging quantum effects for up to 20 milliseconds. Different experiments are needed to calculate the speedup relative to optimal classical systems.

Quantum annealing is a general strategy for solving difficult optimization problems with the aid of quantum adiabatic evolution. Both analytical and numerical evidence suggests that under idealized, closed system conditions, quantum annealing can outperform classical thermalization-based algorithms such as simulated annealing. Do engineered quantum annealing devices effectively perform classical thermalization when coupled to a decohering thermal environment? To address this we establish, using superconducting flux qubits with programmable spin-spin couplings, an experimental signature which is consistent with quantum annealing, and at the same time inconsistent with classical thermalization, in spite of a decoherence timescale which is orders of magnitude shorter than the adiabatic evolution time. This suggests that programmable quantum devices, scalable with current superconducting technology, implement quantum annealing with a surprising robustness against noise and imperfections.

December 18, 2012

China will open the Beijing - Guangzhou line which will be the longest high speed rail line

A high-speed railway between Beijing and Guangzhou will open in two weeks' time, the Chinese Railways Ministry said yesterday. It will offer the longest bullet-train ride in the world and cut the journey time between the two cities to less than eight hours.

When services begin on December 26 - the 119th anniversary of the birth of late Communist Party patriarch Mao Zedong - the 2,298-kilometre (1428 miles) line will eclipse the high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai. That 1,318-kilometre (819 miles) route opened in June last year.

Map of planned and completed routes for China's high speed rail network. There are 4 main north-south lines and 4 main east -west lines.

Nvidia Tegra 4 will have 6 times the performance of the Tegra 3

What were the most important innovations of the last five years

We looked at IBM's latest prediction of five innovations for the next five years (out to the end of 2017) It is important when looking forward to look back. Five years is a short time where innovation and developments are mostly linear. So we can look back in five year increments to get a sense of the change we might expect for the next five years.

What were the most important innovations of the prior five years ? Since 2007 ?

Horizontal multiple fracture drilling has changed the oil and gas industry. Natural gas production has been greatly increased and global politics has been impacted.

The iPhone was introduced to the United States in June 29, 2007.

The total number of iOS devices (iPhones, iPod Touches, iPads) sold to date is over 400 million. They have popularized touch devices. Over 500 million Android devices have been sold.

IBM predicts five innovations for the next 5 years

IBM has released their most recent five innovations that will change our lives within five years.

1. Touch: You will be able to touch through your phone

IBM Research think that in the next five years that our mobile devices will bring together virtual and real world experiences to not just shop, but feel the surface of produce (haptic feedback), and get feedback on data such as freshness or quality.

2. Sight: A pixel will be worth a thousand wordsSight: A pixel will be worth a thousand words

December 17, 2012

DARPA creating 100 Gigabit per second wireless communication backbone

DARPA’s 100 Gb/s RF Backbone (100G) intends to develop a fiber-optic-equivalent communications backbone that can be deployed worldwide. The goal is to create a 100 Gb/s data link that achieves a range greater than 200 kilometers between airborne assets and a range greater than 100 kilometers between an airborne asset (at 60,000 feet) and the ground. The 100G program goal is to meet the weight and power metrics of the Common Data Link (CDL) deployed by Forces today for high-capacity data streaming from platforms.

North Dakota increases daily oil production for the 19th straight month to 747,239 bpd

North Dakota increased its daily oil production to 747,239 barrels per day. This continues a string of 19 monthly increases since April, 2011.

Recent national oil production numbers from the Energy Information Administration suggest that North Dakota and Texas have continued to increase oil production into December.

Protein BubR1 slows aging by 15% and reduces cancer in mice

Genetically engineered mice that make extra BubR1 are less prone to cancer and live 15% longer.

Researchers found that when they exposed normal mice to a chemical that causes lung and skin tumors, all of them got cancer. But only 33% of those overexpressing BubR1 at high levels did. They also found that these animals developed fatal cancers much later than normal mice—after about 2 years, only 15% of the engineered mice had died of cancer, compared with roughly 40% of normal mice.

The animals that overexpressed BubR1 at high levels also lived 15% longer than controls, on average. And the mice looked veritably Olympian on a treadmill, running about twice as far—200 meters rather than 100 meters—as control animals. BuBR1's life-extending effects aren't due to only its ability to prevent cancer, although that's not yet certain.

They may have identified a new drug target to slow aging with no identified negative consequences and possibly prevent cancer.

Nature - Increased expression of protein BubR1 protects against aneuploidy and cancer and extends healthy lifespan

December 16, 2012

A scalable neuristor built with Mott memristors by R. Stanley Williams

Dr. Matthew Pickett and Stanley Williams have been collaborating on a project at HP Labs to explore the possibility of using "locally-active memristors" as the basis for extremely low-power transistorless computation.

We first analyzed the thermally-induced first order phase transition from a Mott insulator to a highly conducting state. The current-voltage characteristic of a cross-point device that has a thin film of such a material sandwiched between two metal electrodes displays a current-controlled or 'S'-type negative differential. We derived analytical equations for the behavior these devices, and found that the resulting dynamical model was mathematically equivalent to the "memristive system" formulation of Leon Chua; we thus call these devices "Mott Memristors. We built Pearson-Anson oscillators based on a parallel circuit of one Mott memristor and one capacitor, and demonstrated subnanosecond and subpicoJoule switching time and energy. We then built a neuristor using two Mott memristors and two capacitors, which emulates the Hodgkin-Huxley model of the axon action potential of a neuron. Finally, through SPICE, we demonstrate that spiking neuristors are capable of Boolean logic and Turing complete computation by designing and simulating the one dimensional cellular nonlinear network based on 'Rule 137'.

They have written a paper which will appear in Nature Materials - "A scalable neuristor built with Mott memristors".

Nanoparticles amplify cancer tumor signals, making them much easier to detect

Finding ways to diagnose cancer earlier could greatly improve the chances of survival for many patients. One way to do this is to look for specific proteins secreted by cancer cells, which circulate in the bloodstream. However, the quantity of these biomarkers is so low that detecting them has proven difficult.

A new technology developed at MIT may help to make biomarker detection much easier. The researchers, led by Sangeeta Bhatia, have developed nanoparticles that can home to a tumor and interact with cancer proteins to produce thousands of biomarkers, which can then be easily detected in the patient’s urine.

These nanoparticles created by MIT engineers can act as synthetic biomarkers for disease. The particles (brown) are coated with peptides (blue) that are cleaved by enzymes (green) found at the disease site. The peptides then accumulate in the urine, where they can be detected using mass spectrometry.
Image: Justin H. Lo

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 135

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 135 is up at the ANS Nuclear Cafe

ANS Nuclear Cafe - : Timing and Framing: How to address nuclear and climate change

In the wake of superstorm Sandy, Suzy Hobbs Baker argues that “right now is the perfect time to provide a new framework for supporting nuclear as a solution to climate change.”

Nvidia Will Reveal Next-Generation Tegra “Wayne” and “Grey” Chips at CES

Nvidia Corp. has already revealed that both of its next-generation Tegra system-on-chip for mobile devices would be taped out this year. Now, the company says that the first details about Tegra-series products code-named Wayne and Grey are set to be revealed at the consumer electronics trade-show (CES) in early 2013, whereas actual products are on schedule by Mobile World Congress in February.

Nvidia Tegra "Grey" system-on-chip features built-in 3G and 4G/LTE communication technologies, the developer pins a lot of hopes on it as it should help it to penetrate the market of mass smartphones (that can be sold at a discount price), which will boost its market share considerably. Tegra "Wayne" is the next-generation multi-core application processor, which is presumably based on ARM Cortex-A15 general-purpose cores as well as a new GeForce-class graphics engine.

A Strong United States Economy Needs More Immigrants

On December 12th the Census Bureau said America’s projected population would rise 27% to 400m by 2050. That is 9% less than it projected for that year back in 2008. Those 65 and over will grow to 22% of the population by 2060 from 14% now, while the working-age population slips to 57% from 63%.

The new projections, based on the 2010 census, are based on recent trends in fertility and immigration. The number of babies born per 1,000 women of childbearing age (also called the “general” fertility rate) fell to 63 in the 12 months that ended in June of this year, the lowest since at least 1920, and well below the recent high of 69 recorded in 2007. That is partly because the average age of women of childbearing age has increased. The “total” fertility rate adjusts for the age of the population and extrapolates how many children each woman will have over her lifetime. This, too, has fallen, and at 1.9 it is below the replacement rate of 2.1. America’s fertility rate is still higher than the average for the OECD, but has fallen sharply since 2007.

Policymakers have yet to panic; the Social Security Commission, which manages America’s public pension system, reckons fertility and immigration will bounce back in the next few years.

NBF - If fertility and immigration do not bounce back and instead get worse then the United States will rapidly start to look like the demographically weak countries like Japan and in Europe.

China's new leadership indicates they will make faster reforms to boost domestic consumption

Beijing's leadership say they want to boost imports and speed the integration of rural migrants into cities as ways to boost domestic consumption, according to reports in China's state-owned news agency, Xinhua. China needed to show "more courage to reform," the statement said.

Ray Kurzweil joins Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing

Ray Kurzweil confirmed that he will be joining Google to work on new projects involving machine learning and language processing.

“I’m excited to share that I’ll be joining Google as Director of Engineering this Monday, December 17,” said Kurzweil.

“I’ve been interested in technology, and machine learning in particular, for a long time: when I was 14, I designed software that wrote original music, and later went on to invent the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, among other inventions. I’ve always worked to create practical systems that will make a difference in people’s lives, which is what excites me as an inventor.

Quantum Tunneling driving some chemical reactions

Researchers have shown for the first time that a mechanism called tunneling control may drive chemical reactions in directions unexpected from traditional theories. The finding has the potential to change how scientists understand and devise reactions in everything from materials science to biochemistry.

The discovery was a complete surprise and came following the first successful isolation of a long-elusive molecule called methylhydroxycarbene by the research team. While the team was pleased that it had "trapped" the prized compound in solid argon through an extremely low-temperature experiment, they were surprised when it vanished within a few hours. That prompted UGA theoretical chemistry professor Wesley Allen to conduct large scale, state-of-the-art computations to solve the mystery."What we found was that the change was being controlled by a process called quantum mechanical tunneling," said Allen, "and we found that tunneling can supersede the traditional chemical reactivity processes of kinetic and thermodynamic control. We weren't expecting this at all."

Japan's LDP party wins a majority

Tissue Engineering could lead to better ways to heal injuries and develop new drugs

In a large-scale project recently funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration, several MIT faculty members are working on a “human-on-a-chip” system that scientists could use to study up to 10 human tissue types at a time. The goal is to create a customizable system of interconnected tissues, grown in small wells on a plate, allowing researchers to analyze how tissues respond to different drugs.

Another near-term goal for tissue engineers is developing regenerative therapies that help promote wound healing.

“Healthy cells sitting adjacent to diseased tissues can influence the biology of repair and regeneration,” says MIT professor Elazer Edelman, who has developed implantable scaffolds embedded with endothelial cells, which secrete a vast array of proteins that respond to injury.

Endothelial cells, normally found lining blood vessels, could help repair damage caused by angioplasty or other surgical interventions; smoke inhalation; and cancer or cardiovascular disease. The implants are now in clinical trials to treat blood-vessel injuries caused by the needles used to perform dialysis in patients with kidney failure. Better repair of those injuries could double the time that such patients can stay on dialysis, which is now limited to about three years, says Edelman, the Thomas D. and Virginia W. Cabot Professor of Health Sciences and Technology.

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