January 26, 2013

The Biggest Economic Bootstrap Ever

Quartz looked at the value of 10 meter asteroids of pure metal

Nextbigfuture argues that have to rewrite the economics of space as we go. Build things so that which follows is cheaper. Food, water, fuel, accommodations, etc... It should all be ready and waiting. We have spent about $3 trillion (in todays dollars on space, (50 years of NASA and Defense space budgets). Yet we do not have the interstate highway system for space after all of that money because we did not try to build things or put things up there to make what followed cheaper. Everything was one off. It is not just the economics of one asteroid. It is about leveraging for hundreds and tens of thousands of asteroids. A proper plan for $3 trillion of space development would have been to make fuel depots in low earth orbit and higher orbits and on the moon and to develop power generation and material processing systems. There should be oxygen, water, fuel, food and other materials available so that space missions that follow can be cheap and light weight. There should be solar system wide positioning system and communications network. Tether (skyhook) systems can be used to reduce the speed and cost needed to get to orbit. By halving the speed to get to orbit (intercept with a skyhook and get boosted to orbit instead of just going to orbit) you would lower fuel requirements by four times.

Internet companies and venture capitalists talk about scaling a business model. Space industrialization is about truly scaling. The biggest economic bootstrap ever. A smaller comparison is the investment to develop the missions and colonies in North and South America in the 1600s and 1700s.

Pure 10 meter Platinum Asteroid would be worth $670 billion
The density of platinum is 21.45 grams per cubic centimeter. If we assume that an entire spherical asteroid with a 10 meter diameter (about 523 cubic meters, 524 million cubic centimeters. 28.4 grams per ounce.) is made of platinum, and that one of these asteroid miners could harvest the whole thing. 396 million ounces. $1694 per ounce. At current market rates, that comes out to $670 billion.

10% Ten meter Nickel Asteroids are worth $8.1 million
Although asteroids of pure metal exist, they’re most likely to be mixes of roughly 90% iron and 10% nickel. A tenth of our asteroid (52.3 cu m, or 466,000 kg) made of nickel would be worth about $8.1 million at last month’s market rates. The iron—well, iron ore is so cheap that it hardly adds anything.

Earth Imaging and Space imaging Data and Space Telescopes are multi-billion dollar markets

As we have discussed before, there is billions in revenue in selling space telescopes that can be made one hundred times cheaper and there is billions in proven revenue in selling earth imaging data.

Non-chicken egg based flu vaccines revolutionizing the fight against flu which kills 250,000 to 500,000 every year

1. The FDA's recent approval of a trivalent seasonal influenza vaccine made using novel manufacturing technology marks a significant milestone in the ongoing battle against this life-threatening illness. According to a Jan. 16 FDA release, Flublok, which is approved for use in adults ages 18-49, does not rely on the traditional method of growing the targeted influenza virus strains in chicken eggs and, thus, can be produced more rapidly than current vaccines.

The vaccine is the first such antitoxin that does not require the use of chicken eggs or live viruses during the production process. Instead, the company uses an insect virus (baculovirus) expression system and recombinant DNA technology to generate purified hemagglutinin antigens specific to each flu virus strain included in the annual vaccine.

the new vaccine does not use the whole influenza virus or eggs in its production, so it is safe for people with egg-related allergies. Moreover, the preservative-free vaccine is formulated to contain three times the active ingredients found in other available flu vaccines and may confer greater immunogenicity in elderly and immunocompromised patients.

In its release, the FDA noted that the vaccine's effectiveness was evaluated in a study comparing about 2,300 people vaccinated with Flublok to a control group of similar size that was given a placebo.

"Flublok was about 44.6 percent effective against all circulating influenza strains, not just the strains that matched the strains included in the vaccine," the release said. "The most commonly reported adverse events included pain at the site of injection, headache, fatigue and muscle aches, events also typical for conventional egg-based, inactivated influenza vaccines."

The company will distribute approximately 100,000 doses in 2013, primarily to pre-identified customers and practices that have special needs. At the same time, Dunkle said, the company is expanding to a new manufacturing facility, which it expects will allow it to offer 3-5 million doses during the 2013-14 season.

Typical flu vaccines are 60-70 percent effective against the circulating strains.

2. Medicago USA, a subsidiary of the Canada-based company, was previously awarded a $21 million agreement with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for a proof-of-concept demonstration to produce 10 million doses of a vaccine candidate in 30 days. The company said the project was successfully completed in July

Medicago is a Canada-based company working to develop influenza vaccines produced using tobacco leaves.

Predicting the improvement rates for many technologies

Competition is intense among rival technologies and success depends on predicting their future trajectory of performance. To resolve this challenge, managers often follow popular heuristics, generalizations, or “laws” like the Moore’s Law. We propose a model, Step And Wait (SAW), for predicting the path of technological innovation and compare its performance against eight models for 25 technologies and 804 technologies-years across six markets. The estimates of the model provide four important results. First, Moore's Law and Kryder's law do not generalize across markets; none holds for all technologies even in a single market. Second, SAW produces superior predictions over traditional methods, such as the Bass model or Gompertz law, and can form predictions for a completely new technology, by incorporating information from other categories on time varying covariates. Third, analysis of the model parameters suggests that: i) recent technologies improve at a faster rate than old technologies; ii) as the number of competitors increases, performance improves in smaller steps and longer waits; iii) later entrants and technologies that have a number of prior steps tend to have smaller steps and shorter waits; but iv) technologies with long average wait time continue to have large steps. Fourth, technologies cluster in their performance by market.

Stop and Wait from the research paper

Stop and Wait improvement graphs

January 25, 2013

UK provides 1 billion dollars for Big Data, Space, Robotics and five other technologies

Eight great technologies which will propel the UK to future growth have received a £600 million funding boost.

There will be:

£189 million for big data
£25 million for space
£35 million for robotics and autonomous systems
£88 million for synthetic biology
£20 million for regenerative medicine
£30 million for agri-science campuses
£73 million for advanced materials
£30 million for energy

We have also committed a further:

£35 million for research campuses
£25 million for the advanced metrology lab
£50 million for transformative equipment and infrastructure

We are also considering a strategic opportunity to partner with the US Department of Energy in the development of small modular reactor technology.

The eight technology programs are:

1. Big data

The UK government invested an extra £150 million in e-Infrastructure in October 2011. This has been followed by a further allocation of an extra £189 million in the Autumn Statement. This will be invested over the next two years in key areas such as: bioinformatics and environmental monitoring.

Our investment in data has also ensured we maintain our leadership in social science. We have invested £23.5 million in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)–led life study, the most ambitious birth cohort study yet, which will track 100,000 children from birth. The reason it is so ambitious is that it will also link genetic data, environmental data and educational outcome data.

2. Space

The UK Government will be investing an extra £25 million in the further implementation of the technology vision through Phase-2 of the National Space Technology Programme. This £25 million of further investment will meet unmet demand as many excellent projects were not supported in the first phase.

Carnival of Space 285

150 kilowatt lasers will be installed in US Fighter planes as early as 2014

The goal of the HELLADS (High Energy Liquid Laser Area Defense System) program is to develop a 150 kilowatt (kW) laser weapon system that is ten times smaller and lighter than current lasers of similar power, enabling integration onto tactical aircraft to defend against and defeat ground threats. With a weight goal of less than five kilograms per kilowatt, and volume of three cubic meters for the laser system, HELLADS seeks to enable high-energy lasers to be integrated onto tactical aircraft, significantly increasing engagement ranges compared to ground-based systems.

The program has completed laboratory testing of a fundamental building block for HELLADS, a single laser module that successfully demonstrated the ability to achieve high power and beam quality from a significantly lighter and smaller laser. The program is now in the final development phase where a second laser module will be built and combined with the first module to generate 150 kW of power.

The HELLADS is expected to have a maximum weight of 750kg.

General Atomics has the contract to deliver the lasers. Textron Defense Systems and Northrop Grumman also have laser development involvement.

We had coverage in 2009 of earlier laser work by Textron and General Atomics

The United States Navy and Air Force will be installing “liquid-cooled, solid-state lasers” in combat airplanes. The lasers will shoot down missiles and rockets targeted at the planes. Firing tests will happen as soon as next year.

J J Abrams will direct Star Wars Episode 7

The LA Times reports that J J Abrams will direct Star Wars Episode 7 J J Abrams is most famous for directing the relaunch Star Trek movies and the TV show Lost.

“Star Wars: Episode VII” will be written by Michael Arndt, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Toy Story 3.”

Simon Kinberg and Lawrence Kasdan have been tapped to write “Star Wars” project.

January 24, 2013

Brain simulation and graphene projects win Billion Euro Funding

The European Commission has selected the two research proposals it will fund to the tune of half-a-billion euros each after a two-year, high-profile contest.

The Human Brain Project, led by neuroscientist Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, plans to simulate everything known about the human brain in a supercomputer.

The other project, called Graphene, is led by theoretical physicist Jari Kinaret at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. It will develop the potential of graphene — an ultrathin, flexible and conducting form of carbon — along with related materials for applications in computing, batteries and sensors.

The projects expect to receive €1 billion over ten years, half to be provided by the European Commission and half by participants. The commission will make its formal announcement on Monday, 28 January.

What will it take to overcome economic stagnation ?

Robert J Gordon (Northwestern University and the Center for Economic Policy Research) wrote 'Is US economic growth over? Faltering innovation confronts the six headwinds' He makes the case that it will be a lot tougher to have economic growth in the future.

The US for output per capita, and the UK before it, gradually began to grow more rapidly after 1750, reached its fastest growth rate in the middle of the 20th century, and has slowed down since. It is in the process of slowing down further.

A useful organising principle to understand the pace of growth since 1750 is the sequence of three industrial revolutions. The first (IR1) with its main inventions between 1750 and 1830 created steam engines, cotton spinning, and railroads. The second (IR2) was the most important, with its three central inventions of electricity, the internal combustion engine, and running water with indoor plumbing, in the relatively short interval of 1870 to 1900. Both the first two revolutions required about 100 years for their full effects to percolate through the economy. During the two decades 1950-70, the benefits of the IR2 were still transforming the economy, including air conditioning, home appliances, and the interstate highway system. After 1970, productivity growth slowed markedly, most plausibly because the main ideas of IR2 had by and large been implemented by then.

The computer and internet revolution (IR3) began around 1960 and reached its climax in the dot.com era of the late 1990s, but its main impact on productivity has withered away in the past eight years. Many of the inventions that replaced tedious and repetitive clerical labor with computers happened a long time ago, in the 1970s and 1980s. Invention since 2000 has centered on entertainment and communication devices that are smaller, smarter, and more capable, but do not fundamentally change labor productivity or the standard of living in the way that electric light, motor cars, or indoor plumbing changed it.

NBF - The internet and computer revolution is just getting started. There is lot more room for computers and the internet to improve.

We will be able to get to terabit per second communication speeds.
Computers have over a billion fold speed improvements to still be made.
Additive manufacturing and robotics are just getting started.

Telepresence Robots from $350 to $16000

Several remote telepresence robots have come to market over the past few years, and more are on the way. Shown below are drivable remote telepresence robots from MantaroBot, Vgo, Anybots, and Suitable Technology. A lower cost non-mobile desktop alternative from Revolve Robotics, known as the “Kubi,” is shown at the right.

ABI Research has projected that the global market for telepresence robots is projected to reach $13 billion by 2017.

Robot sales to consumers could quadruple to $6.5 billion by 2017, according to New York-based ABIresearch.

Medical Robot gets FDA Clearance

Shares of iRobot (Nasdaq:IRBT) soared to 10.27 percent to $23.28 as of 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan 24, 2013. The increase comes on the heels of the Bedford, Mass. company's announcement that the remote presence robot developed by iRobot and its telemedicine partner, InTouch Health, has received 510(k) clearance by the by U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in hospitals.

Six months ago iRobot launched the RP VITA (Remote Presence Virtual + Independent Telemedicine Assistant) at the InTouch Health 7th Annual Clinical Innovations Forum.

Daily Finance has a positive view of iRobot and the RP VITA

iRobot and InTouch Health are hard at work getting the remote-presence automatons into hospitals and health care facilities around the world. So far these initiatives seem to be paying off. InTouch has so far sold its telepresence robots to more than 400 hospitals. Meanwhile, iRobot's Ava platform recently ranked among Information Week's "10 Medical Robots That Could Change Healthcare." The RP VITA robot can interface with diagnostic devices and electronic medical records (EMR) systems. The remote rig will eventually be able to navigate to specified target destinations autonomously.

Robert Freitas Talks Nanomedicine and Medical Nanobots with Ray Kurzweil and a Reminder that DNA Nanomedical bots Already Exist

Kurzweil and Freitas have a differing view.

Kurzweil: Humans and nanomachines will be permanently and seamlessly integrated at the cellular level.

Freitas: Humans and nanomachines will not be integrated. Humans will periodically inject themselves with nanomachines to perform specific purposes meant to restore or upgrade their organic tissue, but the nanomachines will leave the body once that is done.

Reminder - DNA nanoscale devices that have Sensors, Logic and Actuators to deliver drugs when conditions are met ALREADY Exist

A DNA sensor is binded to a protein ligand.

A logic-gated nanorobot for targeted transport of molecular payloads (Shawn Douglas SM, Ido Bachelet, George Church)

Abstract - We describe an autonomous DNA nanorobot capable of transporting molecular payloads to cells, sensing cell surface inputs for conditional, triggered activation, and reconfiguring its structure for payload delivery. The device can be loaded with a variety of materials in a highly organized fashion and is controlled by an aptamer-encoded logic gate, enabling it to respond to a wide array of cues. We implemented several different logical AND gates and demonstrate their efficacy in selective regulation of nanorobot function. As a proof of principle, nanorobots loaded with combinations of antibody fragments were used in two different types of cell-signaling stimulation in tissue culture. Our prototype could inspire new designs with different selectivities and biologically active payloads for cell-targeting tasks.

43 pages of supplemental material

The purple blob is the drug payload inside the molecular bucket with a lid and a molecularly activated lock.

Antimicrobial Hydrogel to Fight Superbugs and Drug-Resistant Biofilms

Researchers from IBM and the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology revealed today an antimicrobial hydrogel that can break through diseased biofilms and completely eradicate drug-resistant bacteria upon contact. The synthetic hydrogel, which forms spontaneously when heated to body temperature, is the first-ever to be biodegradable, biocompatible and non-toxic, making it an ideal tool to combat serious health hazards facing hospital workers, visitors and patients.

IBM Research and its collaborators developed a remoldable synthetic antimicrobial hydrogel, comprised of more than 90% water, which, if commercialized, is ideal for applications like creams or injectable therapeutics for wound healing, implant and catheter coatings, skin infections or even orifice barriers.

Able to colonize on almost any tissue or surface, microbial biofilms - which are adhesive groupings of diseased cells present in 80% of all infections - persist at various sites in the human body, especially in association with medical equipment and devices. They contribute significantly to hospital-acquired infections, which are among the top five leading causes of death in the United States and account for up to $11 billion in healthcare spending each year.

January 23, 2013

Google plans on making 10% of the US unemployed

If Google and other companies are successful with robotic cars so that all cars, trucks and buses were converted to robotic vehicles there would be huge employment impacts. There are a lot of driving related jobs. Fortunately a lot more jobs will be created from expanded cities and greater mobility and productivity.

According the American Trucking Association there are 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States, with total industry employment at over 8.7 million. That means that one out of every 15 people working in the United States is employed in the trucking industry.

Professional truck drivers drove over 400 billion miles in 2005, a 146 percent increase in 25 years. In 2006, the trucking industry hauled 10.7 billion tons of freight, or 69 percent of total U.S. freight tonnage. In contrast, rail was the next busiest mode, moving 13.3 percent of the nation’s freight tonnage.

A shortage of professional truck drivers exists in some segments of the trucking industry. There is a current shortage of approximately 20,000 truck drivers per year. This number is expected to increase to 111,000 drivers by the year 2014.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

1.6 million heavy truck and tractor truck drivers.

1,262,600 Delivery truck and driver sales workers

647,000 bus drivers

250,000 taxi drivers and chauffeurs.

Robot Cars could be worth over $2 trillion per year to the US alone

[Forbes] The driverless car has broad implications for society, for the economy and for individual businesses. Just in the U.S., the car puts up for grab some $2 trillion a year in revenue and even more market cap.

Driverless car technology has the very real potential to save millions from death and injury and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars of costs. Google’s claims for the car, as described by Sebastian Thrun, its lead developer, are:

* We can reduce traffic accidents by 90%.
* We can reduce wasted commute time and energy by 90%.
* We can reduce the number of cars by 90%.

About 5.5 million motor vehicle accidents occurred in 2009 in the U.S., involving 9.5 million vehicles. These accidents killed 33,808 people and injured more than 2.2 million others, 240,000 of whom had to be hospitalized. This costs the US $450 billion per year.

PWC indicates that the global automotive supply industry has aggregated revenue of $2.8 trillion.

China will ramp up synthetic gas from coal perhaps to 35% of total gas supply by 2020

Sinopec and PetroChina quietly have been beefing up efforts to start producing syngas from coal in the last two years. Coal-to-gas production could potentially outstrip both shale gas and coalbed methane by the end of the current five-year economic plan in 2015, as well as by 2020, according to some estimates. Bernstein is predicting synthetic coal gas production to reach 16 billion cubic meters/year by 2015 and 55 billion cu m/year by 2020, representing 6% and 14%, respectively, of China’s total gas demand. This would be more than the 20.2 billion cu m/year of CBM output the bank expects by 2020.

Nomura Research is even more optimistic, forecasting syngas to account for 35% of China’s total gas supply by 2020. It estimates the price of syngas production to average $7-$8/Mcf, much cheaper than the expected $13-$17/Mcf for imported gas and LNG, which would trigger much faster development of syngas projects, particularly in China’s western regions, which are rich in coal.

GE’s Industrial Internet World Industrial Survey Statistics –A Baseline for Future Kardashev Level 1 World Projections

GE’s Industrial Internet World Industrial Survey Statistics – A Baseline for Future Kardashev Level 1 World Projections

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

Brian Wang has written in the article “Industrial Internet Report From GE Finds That Combination of Networks and Machines Could Add $10 to $15 Trillion to Global GDP" The charts featured in that GE report show the breakdown of global GDP by sector ($70 trillion, about $21 trillion of that being industry, over half of that being manufacturing of goods.)

The GE report has a wonderful breakdown of global industry.
Building on the statistics summarized below, we can project how much the mass loadings of global industry are currently and estimate how many times larger future industry (on Earth or in space) will be.

Now—about 10,000 large ships massing say 200,000 tons each (2 billion tons of steel)
Now—about 12 million tons of locomotives (with probably another billion tons of rolling stock and track mass)
Now—about a million tons of major aircraft.
Now—about 11,000 major industrial primary plants with say 200,000 tons of plant mass each (3.3 billion tons of industrial plant) (This is probably about half the true level of global industry infrastructure—another third would be many more smaller plants, another third widely distributed smaller infrastructure.)  Note that these present industrial levels were unimaginable even a century ago— in 1920 US steel output was about 60 million tons. Now China produces 20 times that in a year.

It is theoretically possible in a century or two timescale, with Kardashev Level Two being about as much more time. It depends on your growth rates—see the link above.

Such an economy might have the following infrastructure levels--
Kardashev Level One—over ten million ships as large as the current marine fleet—possibly clustered into superships.  Most people might then live on the sea in floating seasteads.  Trillions of tons of ship displacement
Kardashev Level One---if rail based systems are still in fashion, billions of tons, possibly huge in mass, like ships today, with specially leveled or raised rights of way.
Kardashev Level One—a billion tons of major aircraft, possibly much larger then today (kilometer scale) We can imagine lighter than aircraft bigger than clouds (kilometer scale)
Kardashev Level One—an industrial plant with at least the mass of the moon Phobos (10 trillion tons), with corresponding outputs.  The path to a Kardashev Level Two (Solar Empire with a billion times greater still output) would be long but open at that point.

Below the line is the current GE industrial survey given in the “Industrial Internet” report

This is a great chart of the various branches of world production

Open Source Web Crawl Copy of the Internet

A nonprofit called Common Crawl is now using its own Web crawler and making a giant copy of the Web that it makes accessible to anyone. The organization offers up over five billion Web pages, available for free so that researchers and entrepreneurs can try things otherwise possible only for those with access to resources on the scale of Google’s.

The ccBot crawler is a distributed crawling infrastructure that makes use of the Apache Hadoop project. We use Map-Reduce to process and extract crawl candidates from our crawl database. This candidate list is sorted by host (domain name) and then distributed to a set of spider (bot) servers. We do not use Nutch for the purposes of crawling, but instead utilize a custom crawl infrastructure to strictly limit the rate at which we crawl individual web hosts. The resulting crawl data is then post processed (for the purposes of link extraction and deduplication) and then reintegrated into the crawl database.

They store the crawl data on Amazon’s S3 service, allowing it to be bulk downloaded as well as directly accessed for map-reduce processing in EC2.

Technology Review discusses the open web crawl.

First criticality for Hongyanhe nuclear reactor and China's Nuclear Energy plans

Unit 1 of the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning province in northeast China has moved closer to commissioning by achieving a sustained chain reaction. The 1080 MWe reactor achieved first criticality on 16 January, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co (CGNPC) and China Power Investment Corp (CPI) reported.

Construction of Hongyanhe 1 - the first of four CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors (PWRs) currently being built at the Hongyanhe Phase I project - started in August 2007.

Previously scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of 2012, Hongyanhe 1 now looks set to enter operation this year. All four units at Phase I should be in operation by the end of 2014.

Industry experts hope China will now favor imported over homemade technology, at least until the local engineers can prove the safety of their designs. That may be a blow to native pride, but it is probably good news for foreign vendors—as well as for ordinary Chinese.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 140

Creation of Ghost Illusions Using Metamaterials

Arxiv - The creation of wave-dynamic illusion functionality is of great interests to various scientific communities, which can potentially transform an actual perception into the pre-controlled perception, thus empowering unprecedented applications in the advanced-material science, camouflage, cloaking, optical and/or microwave cognition, and defense security, etc. By using the space transformation theory and engineering capability of metamaterials, we propose and realize a functional “ghost” illusion device, which is capable of creating wave-dynamic virtual ghost images off the original object’s position under the illumination of electromagnetic waves. The scattering signature of the object is thus ghosted and perceived as multiple ghost targets with different geometries and compositions. The ghost-illusion material, being inhomogeneous and anisotropic, was realized by thousands of varying unit cells working at non-resonance. The experimental demonstration of the ghost illusion validates our theory of scattering metamorphosis and opens a novel avenue to the wave-dynamic illusion, cognitive deception, manipulate strange light or matter behaviors, and design novel optical and microwave devices.

NASA Researchers Studying Advanced Nuclear Rocket Technologies

Advanced propulsion researchers at NASA are a step closer to solving the challenge of safely sending human explorers to Mars and other solar system destinations.

By using an innovative test facility at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., researchers are able to use non-nuclear materials to simulate nuclear thermal rocket fuels -- ones capable of propelling bold new exploration missions to the Red Planet and beyond.

The Nuclear Cryogenic Propulsion Stage team is tackling a three-year project to demonstrate the viability of nuclear propulsion system technologies. A nuclear rocket engine uses a nuclear reactor to heat hydrogen to very high temperatures, which expands through a nozzle to generate thrust. Nuclear rocket engines generate higher thrust and are more than twice as efficient as conventional chemical rocket engines.

The team recently used Marshall's Nuclear Thermal Rocket Element Environmental Simulator, or NTREES, to perform realistic, non-nuclear testing of various materials for nuclear thermal rocket fuel elements. In an actual reactor, the fuel elements would contain uranium, but no radioactive materials are used during the NTREES tests. Among the fuel options are a graphite composite and a "cermet" composite -- a blend of ceramics and metals

Hybrid Air system would have Emissions like a Plug in Hybrid and get 81.1 mpg

Hydraulic powertrains for cars would uses compressed air for energy storage and basically comprises two hydraulic units and their pressure accumulators. The technology—called “Hybrid Air”—will be fitted on B-segment models starting in 2016.

The power-split concept allows the vehicle to be driven in three ways: the conventional mechanical way, hydraulically, or by a combination of the two. At low loads, therefore, the internal-combustion engine can be run at a more economical operating status. When braking, moreover, the kinetic energy that would otherwise be lost as heat is converted into hydraulic energy and stored in a pressure accumulator. This energy can then be used to drive the car. In addition, driving off can be done purely hydraulically, and short distances driven without any emissions. The result is a potential average CO2 reduction of 30 percent in the new European driving cycle, and as much as 45 percent in a purely urban driving cycle.

Cost-effective hybrid powertrain for compact cars

In principle, this technology can be combined with any conventional engine. In an initial phase, it is to be used in the compact car segment, but it is also suitable for other passenger-car segments and light delivery trucks in urban traffic. This hydraulic-mechanical powertrain system results in a hybrid powertrain that is more cost-effective, robust, and service-friendly. In addition, it does not require any special infrastructure, and can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Dwave Quantum Computing Could Disruptively Impact Medicine, Machine Intelligence, Data Security and other Areas

At a recent meeting of the Centre for the Advancement of Health Innovation, Jeremy Hilton, Vice-President, Processor Development at D-Wave Systems, discussed the potentially disruptive capability of a quantum computer.

D-Wave is currently investigating the use of quantum computing in understanding protein folding. Mr. Hilton explains “if we could understand the structure of proteins we would know what drugs can interfere with their activity.” D-Wave is also developing algorithms that can detect cancer based on x-ray information. This work is complex as machines do not work like a human brain—a machine cannot look at a picture and determine the problem the way that a human can. D-Wave’s algorithms work much more similarly to the human brain.

Many health experts believe that in the next five to ten years, quantum computing will radically improve the ability to understand, treat and cure diseases. This technology will have a disruptive impact in numerous fields: machine intelligence, internet, intelligence, data security and many others

Operation Unthinkable - Even With Nuclear Weapons Western Powers Had No way to Free Eastern Europe by Force of Arms

Operation Unthinkable was a code-name of two related plans of a conflict between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. Both were ordered by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in 1945 and developed by the British Armed Forces' Joint Planning Staff at the end of World War II in Europe.

The first of the two assumed a surprise attack on the Soviet forces stationed in Germany in order to "impose the will of the Western Allies" on the Soviets and force Joseph Stalin to honour the agreements in regards to the future of Central Europe. When the odds were judged "fanciful", the original plan was abandoned. The code-name was used instead for a defensive scenario, in which the British were to defend against a Soviet drive towards the North Sea and the Atlantic following the withdrawal of the American forces from the continent.

The study became the first of Cold War-era contingency plans for war with the Soviet Union. Both plans were highly secret at the time of their creation and it was not until 1998 that they were made public

January 22, 2013

Deep Space Industries will compete with Planetary Resources for Asteroid Mining

Deep Space Industries believes the human race is ready to begin harvesting the resources of space both for their use in space and to increase the wealth and prosperity of the people of planet Earth.

Deep Space Industries is a competitor to Planetary Resources which also is working towards space asteroid mining.

Deep Space Industries plans to launch a fleet of prospecting spacecraft in 2015, then begin harvesting metals and water from near-Earth asteroids within a decade or so. Such work could make it possible to build and refuel spacecraft far above our planet's surface, thus helping our species get a foothold in the final frontier.

Multiple steps toward the ‘quantum singularity’

In early 2011, a pair of theoretical computer scientists at MIT proposed an optical experiment that would harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to perform a computation impossible on conventional computers. the experiment “has the potential to take us past what I would like to call the ‘quantum singularity,’ where we do the first thing quantumly that we can’t do on a classical computer.”

Nextbigfuture has predicted that Quantum Computers will be faster and more powerful than Classical computers for optimization problems and quantum simulations by 2025.

The MIT experiment is scientifically interesting but it is a very weak and useless singularity. The Technological singularity is when Artificial General Intelligence exceeds human intelligence by a billion times and the result is supposed to be rapidly accelerated technological progress. Technological progress would be so fast that humanity would not be able to predict what will happen. The "quantum singularity" could eventually lead to useful quantum computers that exceed classical computers but it will be many years to create the benefits and it would be difficult to tell the difference between a world where quantum computers are better than classical computers and a world where that had not happened.

Eventually if quantum optimizations are vastly superior then there will be improved logistics which would need to be adopted on a wide scale and the world economy could be improved by several percentage points.

Eventually vastly superior quantum simulations should drive faster development of molecular nanotechnology and improved complex quantum systems.

The computation that Aaronson and Arkhipov’s experiment performs is obscure and not very useful: Technically, it samples from a probability distribution defined by permanents of large matrices. There are, however, proposals to use optical signals to do general-purpose quantum computing, most prominently a scheme known as KLM, after its creators, Emanuel Knill, Raymond Laflamme and Gerard Milburn.

George Church Blames Neanderthal clone story on poor translation

The headline flying across the Internet yesterday seemed too outlandish to be true:

“Wanted: ‘Adventurous woman’ to give birth to Neanderthal man — Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby,” Britain’s Daily Mail exulted.

And Harvard University geneticist George M. Church, the scientist at the center of the viral vortex, says it was: Way too outlandish, and entirely untrue.

George blames a mistake in an article he says was written off an interview in the German magazine Der Spiegel, badly misinterpreting what he said — that such a cloning might theoretically be possible someday — and arriving at the conclusion that he was actively looking for a woman to bear a cave baby with DNA scavenged from ancient Neanderthal bones. He suggested poor translation skills may be part of the problem.

“I’m certainly not advocating it,” Church said. “I’m saying, if it is technically possible someday, we need to start talking about it today.”

January 21, 2013

Planetary Resources Updates the Arkyd-100 space telescope

Planetary Resources has an interesting update, video and press release. Below are the details.

In the accompanying video, you can see one of our full scale Arkyd-100 mechanical prototypes. The Arkyd-100 is our space telescope and technology demonstrator for our Arkyd Series prospecting missions.

One of the earliest decisions we made was to design and build as much as possible in-house, right here at PRI. This is much the same way that Elon Musk and SpaceX have vertically integrated to drive innovation, control reliability, and keep costs down. This mindset and capability will allow us to mass produce our spacecraft at extremely low cost.

The first thing I’d like you to notice is that our Arkyd-100 is daringly small, and this cuts the cost of deep space missions below anything we’ve become accustomed to. Our engineering team is packing tremendous capability into this small package, and this will give us more launch opportunities to get our spacecraft where they need to go in the Solar System.

We’ve put an incredible amount into 11 kg, from our deployable solar arrays, to the integrated avionics bay, and our instrument and sensor package at the back of the comparatively large optical assembly, that dominates the volume of the spacecraft – and of course you can’t see the innovations we’re developing in the flight software, but our software team will assure that they exist!

George Church talks about resurrecting Neanderthals, engineered longevity and synthetic fuel for about twenty cents per gallon

Der Spiegel has an interview with George Church.

Nextbigfuture has covered George Church's work and his recent book Regensis several times.

We had previously covered his approach to resurrecting the Wooly Mammoth and Neanderthals which is one of the main focuses of the Der Spiegel interview.

Full blown Genomic Engineering for resurrection the Wooly Mammoth and Neanderthal

This could be done with MAGE (Multiplex automated genomic engineering) technology. MAGE was also developed by George. Genomic Engineering works a few nucleotides at a time. MAGE works in a wholesale fashion.

1. Take the elephant genome
2. Break it into 30,000 pieces of 100,000 DNA units in length
3. Use a reconstructed Mammoth genome as a template
4. Select the important changes to make the elephant genome
5. Reassemble the changed pieces
6. Transfer into the egg cell for the female elephant to give birth to the new Mammoth clone

The same can be done for the Neanderthal.

However, the important thing is that if the technology of genomic engineering can do these kinds of miracles then other radical biological will also be possible.

Nextbigfuture has also covered the new cheaper and faster approach to gene editing called CRISPR.

CRISPR is an RNA-guided editing tool for facile, robust, and multiplexable human genome engineering.

CRISPR needs 20 base pairs of RNA for targeting. The previous best genetic engineering method TALE Nuclease used 2000 base pairs for targeting and was about 0.37% accurate for targeting.

CRISPR is 100 times easier to create the targeting and 10 to 20 times more effective at targeting than prior approaches.

January 20, 2013

Russia space program budgets $69 billion for a Soyuz replacement

Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) has begun the process of designing and building a replacement for its ageing Soyuz rocket and space capsule system, with the aim of putting it into operation by 2020.

The Russian budget for a new rocket and capsule has been set at 2.1 trillion rubles (£43 billion), according to the programme details on the Roscomos website. The new "energy transportation module with a promising propulsion installation that will be ready for testing by 2018" is intended for "detailed study of the Moon," using "an entirely new class of interplanetary travel technology".

Russia has laid out their space plans from now until 2020

Russia plans unmanned lunar mission for 2015

Russia will launch a robotic lunar station in 2015, Federal Space Agency Roscosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin said on Tuesday.

Luna-Glob will lift off from the Vostochny space port in Russia’s Far East after several test launches, he said.

Luna-Glob is the first of four missions planned before the creation of a fully robotic lunar base scheduled for after 2015.

The orbiter will have a payload of 120 kilograms (260 pounds), including equipment for astrophysics experiments, dust monitors, and plasma sensors to study ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays.

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