February 02, 2013

For Social Media Active Usage Highest at Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter then Five China only sites

Google plus grew in terms of active usage by 27% to 343m users to become the number 2 social platform. Interestingly for Google, YouTube (not previously tracked by us as a social platform) comes in at number 3, demonstrating the immense opportunity of linking Google’s services through the G+ social layer. This is also a key indication of why Google+ integrated with the Google product set is so key to the future of search and the internet

Improvement over TCP would give 30 times faster file transfer, 6 times less latency and 5 times faster web browsing

Fujitsu Laboratories Limited today announced the development of a new data transfer protocol that, by taking a software-only approach, can significantly improve the performance of file transfers, virtual desktops and other various communications applications.

Through a simple software installation, the new technology will make it possible to speed up TCP applications that previously required costly specialized hardware, and it can also be easily incorporated into mobile devices and other kinds of equipment. Moreover, compared with TCP, the technology enables a greater than 30 times improvement in file transfer speeds between Japan and the US, in addition to reducing virtual desktop operating latency to less than 1/6 of previous levels. During fiscal 2013, Fujitsu Laboratories aims to commercialize the new technology as a communications middleware solution for improving communications speeds without having to modify existing TCP applications.

Conventionally, when using transmission control protocol (TCP)(1)—the standard protocol employed in communications applications—in a low-quality communications environment, such as when connected to a wireless network or during times of line congestion, data loss (packet loss) can occur, leading to significant drops in transmission performance due to increased latency from having to retransmit data.

To address this problem, Fujitsu Laboratories has succeeded at a software-only approach, developing: 1) A new protocol that incorporates an efficient proprietarily developed retransmission method based on user datagram protocol (UDP)(2), an optimized way to deliver streaming media able to reduce latency resulting from data retransmission when packet loss occurs; 2) Control technology that addresses the problem of UDP transmissions consuming excess bandwidth by performing a real-time measurement of available network bandwidth and securing an optimal amount of communications bandwidth without overwhelming TCP's share of the bandwidth; and 3) Technology that, by employing the new protocol, makes it possible to easily speed up existing TCP applications without having to modify them.

February 01, 2013

Towards defect-free graphene and large scale manufacturing

A new way of growing graphene without the defects that weaken it and prevent electrons from flowing freely within it could open the way to large-scale manufacturing of graphene-based devices with applications in fields such as electronics, energy, and healthcare.

A team led by Oxford University scientists has overcome a key problem of growing graphene – a one atom-thick layer of carbon – when using an established technique called chemical vapour deposition, that the tiny flakes of graphene form with random orientations, leaving defects or 'seams' between flakes that grow together.

The discovery, reported in a paper published in ACS Nano, reveals how these graphene flakes, known as 'domains', can be lined up by manipulating the alignment of carbon atoms on a relatively cheap copper foil – the atomic structure of the copper surface acts as a 'guide' that controls the orientation of the carbon atoms growing on top of them.

ACS Nano - Controlling the Orientation, Edge Geometry, and Thickness of Chemical Vapor Deposition Graphene

Genetically modified tobacco plants produce antibodies to treat rabies

In a new research report appearing in The FASEB Journal, scientists produced a monoclonal antibody in transgenic tobacco plants that was shown to neutralize the rabies virus. This new antibody works by preventing the virus from attaching to nerve endings around the bite site and keeps the virus from traveling to the brain.

"Rabies continues to kill many thousands of people throughout the developing world every year and can also affect international travelers," said Leonard Both, M.Sc., a researcher involved in the work from the Hotung Molecular Immunology Unit at St. George's, University of London, in the United Kingdom. "An untreated rabies infection is nearly 100 percent fatal and is usually seen as a death sentence. Producing an inexpensive antibody in transgenic plants opens the prospect of adequate rabies prevention for low-income families in developing countries."

To make this advance, Both and colleagues "humanized" the sequences for the antibody so people could tolerate it. Then, the antibody was produced using transgenic tobacco plants as an inexpensive production platform. The antibody was purified from the plant leaves and characterized with regards to its protein and sugar composition. The antibody was also shown to be active in neutralizing a broad panel of rabies viruses, and the exact antibody docking site on the viral envelope was identified using certain chimeric rabies viruses.

They also establish the basis for developing an inexpensive plant-based antibody product to benefit low-income families in developing countries.

Towards Printable photonic devices with sub-10 nm resolution

The researchers are using nanoimprinting and have already produced 5 nanometer lines and they believe they can scale it up to commercial applications.

A novel and robust route for high-throughput, high-performance nanophotonics-based direct imprint of high refractive index and low visible wavelength absorption materials is presented. Sub-10 nm TiO2 nanostructures are fabricated by low-pressure UV-imprinting of an organic–inorganic resist material. Post-imprint thermal annealing allows optical property tuning over a wide range of values. For instance, a refractive index higher than 2.0 and an extinction coefficient close to zero can be achieved in the visible wavelength range. Furthermore, the imprint resist material permits fabrication of crack-free nanopatterned films over large areas and is compatible for fabricating printable photonic structures.

A novel strategy to pattern optical functional films with high refractive index over large areas is reported. The approach is used to demonstrate for the first time the patterning of sub-10 nm features into inorganic films by nanoimprint lithography. The optical properties of the nanostructured films are easily tuned by post-annealing and their optical transparency is suitable with photonic applications. These results open a promising route for fabricating printable photonic nanodevices with high resolution and high throughput.

Direct ultraviolet imprinting of a functional resist.

SEM pictures of the imprinted TiO2 films showing the shrinkage induced by the annealing process: (a) top-view SEM of the imprinted grating, (b) SEM of the grating after annealing at 400 °C for 10 min; (c) cross-section SEM of a 270 nm linewidth and 700 nm imprinted pitch gratings and (d) SEM of the cross-section after the annealing process at 400 °C for 10 min. The height of the pattern is decreased from 420 nm down to 160 nm after annealing.

Enzyme Molecules as Nanomotors

Enzymes, workhorse molecules of life that underpin almost every biological process, may have a new role as “intelligent” micro- and nanomotors with applications in medicine, engineering and other fields. That’s the topic of a report in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, showing that single molecules of common enzymes can generate enough force to cause movement in specific directions.

Peter J. Butler, Ayusman Sen and colleagues point out that enzymes — proteins that jump-start chemical reactions — are the basis of natural biological motors essential to life. Scientists long have wondered whether a single enzyme molecule, the smallest machine that could possibly exist, might be able to generate enough force to cause its own movement in a specific direction. “Positive answers to these questions,” they explain, “have important implications in areas ranging from biological transport to the design of ‘intelligent,’ enzyme-powered, autonomous nano- and micromotors, which are expected to find applications in bottom-up assembly of structures, pattern formation, cargo (drug) delivery at specific locations, roving sensors and related functions.”

They provide the positive answers in experiments with two common enzymes called catalase and urease. Catalase protects the body from harmful effects of hydrogen peroxide formed naturally in the course of life. Urease, found in many plants, converts urea to ammonia and carbon dioxide. The researchers show that these two enzymes, in the presence of their respective substrate (hydrogen peroxide or urea, which acts as fuel), show movement. More significantly, the movement becomes directional through the imposition of a substrate gradient, a form of chemotaxis. Chemotaxis is what attracts living things toward sources of food. The researchers also show that movement causes chemically interconnected enzymes to be drawn together; a form of predator-prey behavior at the nanoscale.

Using fluorescence correlation spectroscopy, researcher show that the diffusive movements of catalase enzyme molecules increase in the presence of the substrate, hydrogen peroxide, in a concentration-dependent manner. Employing a microfluidic device to generate a substrate concentration gradient, they show that both catalase and urease enzyme molecules spread toward areas of higher substrate concentration, a form of chemotaxis at the molecular scale. Using glucose oxidase and glucose to generate a hydrogen peroxide gradient, they induce the migration of catalase toward glucose oxidase, thereby showing that chemically interconnected enzymes can be drawn together.

Stanford researchers use a million cores from IBM Sequoia supercomputer for supersonic jet engine simulation

Researchers at the Center for Turbulence Research set a new record in supercomputing, harnessing a million computing cores to model supersonic jet noise. Work was performed on the newly installed Sequoia IBM Bluegene/Q system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.

Stanford Engineering's Center for Turbulence Research (CTR) has set a new record in computational science by successfully using a supercomputer with more than one million computing cores to solve a complex fluid dynamics problem—the prediction of noise generated by a supersonic jet engine.

Joseph Nichols, a research associate in the center, worked on the newly installed Sequoia IBM Bluegene/Q system at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories (LLNL) funded by the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Sequoia once topped list of the world's most powerful supercomputers, boasting 1,572,864 compute cores (processors) and 1.6 petabytes of memory connected by a high-speed five-dimensional torus interconnect.

Because of Sequoia’s impressive numbers of cores, Nichols was able to show for the first time that million-core fluid dynamics simulations are possible—and also to contribute to research aimed at designing quieter aircraft engines.

Real Bionic Man for $1 million

A real-world bionic man has been built. It has a frame of state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs and a functional heart-lung system, complete with artificial blood pumping through a network of pulsating modified-polymer arteries. It has a bionic spleen to clean the blood, and an artificial pancreas to keep his blood sugar on the level. Behind the deep brown irises are a pair of retinal implants, giving him a vista of the crowds of curious humans who meet his gaze.

He even has a degree of artificial intelligence: talk to him, and he'll listen (through his cochlear implants), before using a speech generator to respond. Although, like us, he sometimes stumbles over his words, memorably describing his idol Eminem as a "well-known crapper", before quickly correcting himself.

Created by Darlow Smithson Productions (DSP, the TV company behind Touching The Void and Richard Hammond's Engineering Connections), with the help of robotics experts Shadow Robot Company, the bionic man was conceived as a literal response to the question: how close is bionic technology is to catching up with – and even exceeding – the capabilities of the human body?

Daily Mail has a breakdown of the parts

Canal Costs in China, Panama and new Canal Materials

The Panama Canal is 77 kilometers (48 miles) long and a Third Set of Locks Project is a project that will double the capacity of the Panama Canal by 2015 by allowing more and larger ships to transit. It is estimated to cost $5.25 billion. In 2025; total inflation-adjusted revenues for that year are predicted to amount to over USD $6.2 billion.

January 31, 2013

The Cutting Edge of Optimization and Discrete Mathematics

Dr. Hearn give an overview of his program - Optimization and Discrete Mathematics at the AFOSR (Air Force) Spring Review 2012.

- Discusses the cutting edge of optimization
- 25% of all scientific programming is spent on linear programming problems
- metamaterial design
- Describes the value of the travelling salesman problem and how they can take two local optima and make the move the next local optima (using non-quantum systems. Just secret math).
- Cracking or making a dent on travelling salesman problems means progress on all NP-complete problems.
- Band gap optimization
- photonic materials and crystalline structures
- circuit design
- improve drugs and manufacturing

This relates to the kinds of discrete optimization problems that could be revolutionized by Dwave Systems adiabatic computer.

Friedlander On The Wang Bullet, And On Boiling Down To Bedrock With The Tsar Bomba: A Conversation With Goat Guy

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander for Next Big Future

The reader known as Goat Guy is a regular in the talkbacks at Next Big Future, many have been entertained by his opinions, backed up by hard engineering calculations. 

I had a correspondence with him about, among other subjects, the Wang Bullet and Tsar Bomba and the possibility of boiling off many meters of rock within a few moments. The Wang Bullet is a single pulse nuclear external pulse propulsion system. Freeman Dyson and Ted Taylor and others worked on the project Orion nuclear pulse propulsion system. The designs involved about 200 pulses to get out of the earth's gravity and 600 more pulses to go to Mars or Saturn's moon Titan. The single pulse propulsion system is to dig a large hole and use one pulse which is a nuclear cannon that could launch thousands of tons in one shot. In this article, the reports from past nuclear tests is used to consider if the blast size and the projectile could not be configured for a successful launch. They also consider nuclear blasts for excavation.

Tsar Bomba Boiled (vaporized) Rock?

I wrote Goat Guy: 
your recent comment concerning  Boron and H-Bombs  got me going---http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/02/which-is-cheaper-per-unit-of-energy.html

”THE thing that scuttles this isn't the cost of the nukes, nor the added-load of nuclear fallout in the atmosphere (a political problem more than anything), but the consequence of the nuclear explosions to the payload.  They would be positively drenched in neutrons with every shot.  Now, one can go all yada-yada “boron”, etc … assuming that one might be able to absorb most of the neutrons.

Aux Contraire, me hearties.  Neutrons, especially in “spikes” are really good at lighting up absorbers such as boron into resonant states that no longer absorb (on nanosecond time-scales) more neutrons.

What you'd get by the time the big tub  got to space … is a highly radioactive wastebin of heavily transmuted “stuff”.  Electronics would be fried.  Metals would be permanently radioactive.  This is not what would be “the point”.

Further, instead of wishfully thinking about using megaton-or-larger devices to get around the cost, please recall that if small-kiloton blasts (0.5 to 10 kT) could barely be sustained by the pusher-plate due to blast-spallation effects, then 100 MT is right out.  There are no known materials that wouldn't just vaporize to plasma in 10-meter-thick layers at modest proximity to such blasts.   The 1 km wide, 100 m deep pit left after the air-burst of the Tsar Bomba at only 50-60 megatons wasn't only “compressed dirt”.  nearly half the mass was vaporized entirely.  Instantly.

The whole idea is an intellectually stimulating thing, but a practical nightmare.  And that's the problem.  Not to mention the elephant-in-the-living room.”


The Future Of Canal Transport--Take The Elevated

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander

George Friedman of Stratfor,  in writing about America’s  “Inevitable Empire”
touches on the vital capital saving aspects of waterborne transport over land transport. Large cargo carrier ships are often many times cheaper than small river barges. Small river barges are often many times cheaper than railroads, which are cheaper than trucks.

In that article he estimates the capital saving factor of water over land transport to be from 10 to 30 times cheaper.  Navigable rivers do not share storm surge problems or tidal variations like coastal seaports.

The problem of course is that navigable rivers are where they are and not where they are not. (In that article, uniquely the US map overlays the richest agricultural lands on Earth with the easiest river transport network.  Thus “The Inevitable Empire”—assuming the USA could stay united and control its’ maritime approaches.)

Other countries have fine cropland, but abysmal crop transport possibilities. And it’s not just crops that get transported but space age hardware, too. From the Michoud plant in Louisiana the Saturn V first stage and later the Space Shuttle External Tanks were easily barged to Florida.  By contrast the SRB Solid Rocket Boosters were forced to a segmented design that killed the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986 because a one-piece SRB could not be sent whole from Utah to Florida. No water transport.

Whole factories can be barged from shipyard to final coastal sites.

Daniel K. Ludwig, around 1967-1981, had a plan for the Jari project--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jari_project which was an attempt to make a woodpulp tree farm in the heart of Brazil. To do so, the American billionaire Daniel K. Ludwig had a turnkey pulp mill built in modular barge form in Japan--

Ludwig had also commissioned two large ship-shaped platforms that were built in Japan and floated to the Jari Project. One barge module contained the pulping sector of the pulp mill. This module housed the digesting the brown stock the bleach plant and the pulp machine. The second module housed the recovery boiler, the evaporators and the recaust. The pulp mill barge was finished in 1978 and launched on February 1. It traveled through the Indian Ocean and through the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at the Brazilian city of Munguba on April 28. The power group module arrived four days later. Both barges were floated into specially built locks. Hundreds of gum wood piles had been driven into the ground to support the two barges. By closing the locks and pumping the water out, the barges gently settled on the many piles.

By having this industrial plant built in a controlled environment and towed halfway around the world, Ludwig avoided the huge logistical difficulties of building small piece by small piece in the middle of a wilderness.

There is no reason gigantic apartment buildings cannot be built in ‘shipyards’ and barged to their destinations (possibly on their sides)

The logistics are compelling and overwhelming—as long as you have a navigable river going to your destination.

But suppose we could build a navigable river anywhere?

The Magdeburg  Canal Bridge in Germany might technically be called a navigable aquaduct but it differs in both feel and practicality from earlier efforts. Compare the smaller ones shown on this web page

with the Magdeburg water bridge and you will be comparing a toy tool with a professional power tool.


Germany: The Magdeburg Water Bridge - Wasserstraßenkreuz Magdeburg

Magdeburg Water Bridge

Facts about Magdeburg  Canal Bridge
  • six years to build
  • cost of 500 million Euros
  • 918 meters long
  • 545000 Euros per meter
  • Width   34 m
  • Water depth     4.25 m
  • Longest span    106 m
  • Total length       918 m (690 m over land and 228 m over water)
  • Clearance below           90.00 m x 6.25 m
  • 68,000 cubic meters of concrete and 24,000 metric tons of steel
  • Connects Hannover and Berlin directly
  • Connects Berlin’s inland harbor network and Rhine river ports.

This being Next Big Future, we take the obvious and intuitive step of wondering what would happen if this sort of thing became widespread.

Forget 6 years for a unique product to be engineered and built, and postulate Broad Group style mass manufacturing and rapid deployment.

As built the 4.25 water depth is larger than many areas with rough bottom on the Mississippi, for example. But the more reliable clearance on the bottom can enable larger cargoes with confidence.

Although our fantasies would like a super canal bridge able to float the heaviest supertankers, don’t forget a mere 34 m wide bargeway can float at a guess ten thousand ton barge clusters, depending how straight it is and if you operate it as a single lane vs double lane highway. Barges can be grouped and assembled into trains with multiple tugs providing huge power.

Assuming 5 meters a second throughput, 200 seconds to clear each kilometer span, and one 10,000 ton barge per interval, we see that a (for example) 100 kilometer stretch of such elevated canal could move a million tons of cargo each 6 hours. Individual barge clusters could be assembled that could hold not merely a Saturn 5, but a Nova or possibly a Sea Dragon. http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/03/in-praise-of-large-payloads-for-space.html

As for the cost per meter, this was a unique project, with all charges piled on top, the engineering, the extra costs of a flagship project, and so forth. We can imagine 200,000 tons of structure a kilometer being built for 200 million Euro. This is still a lot but one can imagine the economic benefits to many small countries which could use a few hundred kilometers of such “navigable river’ say from a seaport to an interior city.

To go higher of course you would build locks that would be elevators in which a barge train would float up on a rising water level to an upper level canal. The thing about water being, it seeks its own level. One can imagine 100-meter high elevated rivers near the coasts, and at the 100 meter altitude level inland there might be locks like floodable elevator shafts into which you would pump 200 meters of water to raise the barge train  to a higher system with 300 meter elevations—the doors would open and you would join the waters of the 300 meter elevated canal system..  Glancing at a map, you might have areas of similar altitude connected by rivers on stilts.

Nor is this the limit, since the tallest easily built structures of iron might be 3-5 kilometers high (warning, the higher you go the more braced for earthquake and wind loads you had better be:) The fact that the highest existing structures are of the 400-800 meter range merely proves we are not used to using the materials we have now to their limits.   But in most cases these extreme altitudes would not be necessary because a multi-level system connected by locks would be far more practical to build. Since the average height of the lands of the continents is a mere 840 meters 2760 feet
under 10 locks should connect most parts of even very extensive countries.

In some countries this will be more practical than others.  In Australia, for example

 Elevation by percentage of Australian land mass

 Attribution: Geoscience Australia 

AREA (km2)
Below sea level
8 500
0 - 199m
2 909 500
200 - 499m
3 728 700
500 - 999m
940 600
1000 - 1499m
66 600
1500 - 1999m
5 200
2000m +
* Excludes islands

Of course, Australia is the lowest continent in terms of elevation, so this is an easy case. There are also less than a dozen major cities to link, and the agricultural areas are few compared to the vast deserts.

In China, on the other hand, there is a vertical range of 9004 meters, more than in any other country. That’s what happens for having Mt. Everest bring up the average –and also the very extensive Tibetan Plateau.  One can imagine canals even there—the problem would be keeping them from freezing in other than the height of summer. What would they carry? Minerals from the mountains. More vital and earlier built would be cross-canals linking otherwise separate shipping networks via existing natural river barges.

One can imagine politicians in elevated capitals such as Mexico City demanding barge ports that don’t really pay by subsidizing stretches of elevated river, perhaps with 10 or 20 different locks, to get to the altitude of the capital. Even the lowest portions of which are around 2,200 meters above sea level That certainly would not be the best use of the money; a far richer system could be spent opening up lowlands with no good transport but abundant (and heavy to transport) material goods which could be exported.

Below is a (highly) speculative map showing possible locations for new navigable ‘rivers’ assuming the costs could be financed and the host countries were eager. Remember that we don’t put artificial rivers where we can get natural ones for free, so some places you would expect to see them lack prospective canals, because existing water systems can link the isolated lines.  The map is based on the NGDC world elevation map at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elevation.jpg

(For geography fanatics a 13 megabyte enlargement of the underlay map is available at http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3d/LARGE_elevation.jpg

Supposing the cost were not 200 million euros per kilometer but 10 times lower still (through a combination of vastly cheaper raw materials and huge mass production efficiencies) then such a map might be practical. 100000 kilometers of canal then would cost 20 million euros a kilometer or 2 trillion Euro for such a network.

At lower prices even quite small countries might do an extensive network. Even water poor countries such as Israel. (If you multiply say 5 meters depth of water times 30 meters wide times say 4 million meters for a 4000 km network that is .6 cubic kilometer in the whole system—large but not undoable since there would be only 120 million meters of surface area to evaporate from—which is less than the surface area of the Sea of Galilee, which already is exposed for evaporation.

Below is a hypothetical mid range system designed for Israel, only around a 2000 km network (I am not sure the higher elevations would pay). If 20 million Euros a kilometer that would run 40 billion Euro.  A large amount for a small country but it would enable logistical capabilities and saving that are simply not available now in that country. (A few years ago, when a major power station component arrived in a port, entire highways had to be shut down to move it on specialized trucks.  When the nuclear station at Dimona was being built, dominating the logistics was the railroad spur that enabled moving heavy parts from the port to the high desert.  Israel is dominated by terrain transitions and is not the easiest country to design a coherent network for.

In most small countries, especially relatively flat ones, the ability to create new navigable canals in straight lines between supply and demand could spur major economic growth and logistics savings.

When will the next great era of canal building begin?

Friedlander Cold Crown 2: A Conversation With Goat Guy

A guest post by Joseph Friedlander for Next Big Future

The reader known as Goat Guy is a regular in the talkbacks at Next Big Future, many have been entertained by his opinions, backed up by hard engineering calculations. This is a follow up examination of the Friedlander Cold Crown and managing large scale lunar industry. The purpose of the Friedlander Cold Crown is to capture runaway gas escapes that otherwise would ruin the wonderful Lunar ambient vacuum during a period of massive industrial bootup. For current lunar atmosphere, Landis gives ten million molecules/cubic centimeter (half nanotorr) during the lunar day 100,000 molecules/cubic centimeter during the lunar night, This corresponds to pressures from 0.001 nanotorr This is good enough to use vacuum tubes without the tube, a vacuum technician’s paradise easily spoiled by large scale outgassing. 

I had a correspondence with him about the Friedlander Cold Crown
whose purpose is to capture runaway gas escapes that otherwise would ruin the wonderful Lunar ambient vacuum during a period of massive industrial bootup.

For current lunar atmosphere, Landis gives ten million molecules/cubic centimeter (half nanotorr) during the lunar day 100,000 molecules/cubic centimeter during the lunar night, This corresponds to pressures from 0.001 nanotorr 
 This is good enough to use vacuum tubes without the tube,  a vacuum technician’s paradise easily spoiled by large scale outgassing.

I wrote Goat Guy:

My gut (and I have a considerable gut) tells me the lunar polar Cold Crown http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/12/friedlander-cold-crown-cold-trap-for.html would work but I would love to know a best guess as to what efficiency (possibly as little as 1/1000th of the 'book value' of many teratons of frozen gas a year).  The way I approached the problem was the old movie trope (if Earth is ripped from the Sun how long to freeze the atmosphere) but on a vacuum world like the Moon I don't think it would be so efficient. (3 ways to get rid of heat, conduction, convection, radiation is the least efficient use of surface area of the three)

Wider War Risks - Israel air strikes Weapon convoys in Syria

Syrian state television said that military command had confirmed a "scientific research centre" north-west of Damascus was struck at dawn on Wednesday, causing damage. Two people were killed and five wounded in the attack on the site, which was engaged in "raising the level of resistance and self-defence".

Earlier, diplomatic and security sources were cited in media reports as saying a convoy of trucks had been struck close to the Syrian-Lebanese border. The Israeli Defence Forces said it had no comment.

Israel Long Range Capabiliy

The Israel Air Force has dedicated the lion's share of it resources and effort on what senior IAF officers refer to as "strengthening long-distance capabilities." This effort includes upgrading the IAF's offensive arsenal by improving the capabilities of the F-15I Ra'am (Thunder) fighters brought into service in the 1990s, completing the integration of the F-16I Sufa (Storm) fighter into active service and purchasing and modifying additional aerial refueling planes. The IAF has also leapfrogged ahead in everything related to advance reconnaissance capabilities based on unmanned aerial vehicles, satellites and communications infrastructure which enables the transmission of data in real time to aircraft during combat sorties.

Multimaterial multiverse simulation

Technology Review discusses the metamaterial multiverse simulation

Various theoreticians have pointed out that there is a formal mathematical analogy between the way certain metamaterials bend light and the way spacetime does the same thing in general relativity. In fact, it ought to be possible to make metamaterials that mimic the behaviour of not only our own spacetime but also many others that cosmologist merely dream about.

Researchers have created a metamaterial containing many “universes” that are mathematically analogous to our own, albeit in the three dimensions rather than four. They exploited the self-assembling nature of cobalt nanoparticles suspended in kerosene.

“These regions behave as transient 2+1 dimensional Minkowski spacetimes which temporarily appear and disappear inside a larger metamaterial “multiverse”,” they say.

Cobalt is ferromagnetic so the nanoparticles tend to become aligned in a magnetic field. In fact, if the density of nanoparticles is high enough, the field causes them to line up in columns. When this happens, the nanocolumns form a metamaterial which is mathematically equivalent to a 2+1 Minkowski spacetime.

So light passing through behaves as if this region has one dimension of time, aligned with the nanocolumns, and two dimensions of space, perpendicular to the nanocolumns.

That creates a single Minkowski universe. The trick that Smolyaninov and pals have pulled off is to create a multiverse containing many Minkowski spacetimes .

The secret here is to keep the density of nanoparticles just below the threshold required to form nanocolums. That’s just over 8 per cent of the fluid by volume in this case. When that happens, natural variations in the density cause nanocolumns to form in small regions of the liquid. In effect, tiny universes are leaping in and out of existence. Smolyaninov and co can even “see” these universes by their effect on polarised light passing through the fluid.

Arxiv - Experimental demonstration of metamaterial “multiverse” in a ferrofluid

January 30, 2013

GE putting $1.5 billion to scale Industrial Internet and targets 1.5% Worker Productivity Growth Each Year

In November, GE announced it would invest $1.5 billion in efforts to fine-tune its machines’ performance and capture big efficiency gains by connecting them to its enterprise software and to the wider Internet. GE thinks that cheaper computing power and sensors are now poised to usher in a new era of big data for industry. Jeff Immelt, GE’s CEO, has called the idea a revolution, and the company’s top economist has suggested it could help increase worker productivity by as much as 1.5 percent a year.

GE hs already built a $170 million factory which has more than 10,000 sensors spread across 180,000 square feet of manufacturing space, all connected to a high-speed internal Ethernet. They monitor things like which batches of powder are being used to form the ceramics at the heart of the batteries, how high a temperature is being used to bake them, how much energy is required to make each battery, and even the local air pressure. On the plant floor, employees with iPads can pull up all the data from Wi-Fi nodes set up around the factory.

Ray Kurzweil's Artificial Intelligence Work at Google

Kurzweil’s AI will be designed to analyze the vast quantities of information Google collects and to then serve as a super-intelligent personal assistant. He suggests it could eavesdrop on your every phone conversation and email exchange and then provide interesting and important information before you ever knew you wanted it. It sounds like a scary-smart version of Google Now

The effort will be based on the theory of the put forward in his new book, How to Create a Mind. In this work, based largely on observations about current trends in AI research, and his own work on speech and character recognition, Kurzweil suggests a fairly simple mechanism by which information is captured and accessed hierarchically throughout the neo-cortex, and posits that this phenomenon can explain the miracle of human conscious experience.

Singularity Hub interviewed Ray Kurzweil

3D spintronic microchip created

New type of microchip created which not only moves information from left to right and back to front, but up and down as well.

Scientists from the University of Cambridge have created, for the first time, a new type of microchip which allow information to travel in three dimensions. Currently, microchips can only pass digital information in a very limited way – from either left to right or front to back. The research was published today, 31 January, in Nature.

Researchers believe that in the future a 3D microchip would enable additional storage capacity on chips by allowing information to be spread across several layers instead of being compacted into one layer, as is currently the case.

For the research, the Cambridge scientists used a special type of microchip called a spintronic chip which exploits the electron’s tiny magnetic moment or ‘spin’ (unlike the majority of today’s chips which use charge-based electronic technology). Spintronic chips are increasingly being used in computers, and it is widely believed that within the next few years they will become the standard memory chip.

The Lead researcher said —Each step on our spintronic staircase is only a few atoms high. I find it amazing that by using nanotechnology not only can we build structures with such precision in the lab but also using advanced laser instruments we can actually see the data climbing this nano-staircase step by step.

Nature - Magnetic ratchet for three-dimensional spintronic memory and logic

Optimal Guaranteed Quantum Computing Versus Quantum Annealing

This is from a 2007 Geordie Rose talk (CTO of Dwave). He indicated that the difference between quantum annealing where the optimal answer is not guaranteed versus a guaranteed optimal answer approach is the speed with which adjustments are made to the adiabatic (thermal analog system)

In reply to:
Combinatorics 11 minutes ago

Side note: one reason why I read this site is that it summarizes videos. It makes it possible for me to check the site and do some quick reading while something is compiling or testing.

Towards Molecular Quantum Computing

Towards Molecular Quantum Computing: Laser Pulse Shaping of Quantum Logic Gates on Diatomic Molecules

The intent of this study is to determine the feasibility of diatomics as molecular quantum computing candidates and shed insight into the use of such experimental laser pulse shaping methods to represent quantum logic gates. Four appropriate rovibrational states of model diatomic molecules are encoded as the qubit states. A set of 2-qubit quantum logic gates (ACNOT, CNOT, NOT, Hadamard) are represented by amplitude and phase shaped laser pulses. The combinations of amplitudes and phases that produce the optimal laser pulse representation, for each quantum logic gate, are determined by a Genetic Algorithm optimization routine. The theoretical laser pulse shaping is analogous to current experimental frequency-domain pulse shaping apparatus with amplitude and phase control at individual frequencies.

A model set of diatomics is sampled in order to determine a relationship between optimal laser pulse shaping and the choice of diatomic molecule. We show that the choice of diatomic molecule greatly influences the ability to produce optimal laser pulse shapes to represent quantum logic gates. Tuneable parameters specific to laser pulse shaping instruments are varied to determine their effect on optimal pulse production. They include varying the number of amplitude and phase components, adjusting the number of frequency components, and altering the frequency width which is synonymous with altering the laser pulse duration. A time domain analytic form of the original frequency domain laser pulse function is derived, providing a useful means to infer the laser pulse dependencies on these parameters. Initially, we show that the appropriate choice of rovibrational state qubits of carbon monoxide (12C16O) and the use of simple shaped binary pulses, 2 amplitude and 2 phase components, can provide significant control for specific quantum gates. Further amplitude variation at each frequency component is shown to be a crucial requirement for optimal laser pulse shaping, whereas phase variation provides minimal contribution. We show that the generation of optimal laser pulse shapes is highly dependent upon the frequency width and increasing the number of frequency components provides incremental improvements to optimal laser pulses.

Star War Video Parodies - Arnold as Darth and Gunnery Sargent as Darth

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Darth Vader

Trapping sunlight with microbeads for thinner and cheaper solar cells

In five to seven years, solar cells will have become much cheaper and only one-twentieth as thick as current solar cells. The trick is to deceive the sunlight with microbeads.

Nanoscientists are currently developing the next generation of solar cells, which will be twenty times thinner than current solar cells.

Over 90 per cent of the current electricity generated by solar panels is made by silicon plates that are 200 micrometres thick. Several billion of these are produced every year. The problem is the large consumption of silicon: five grams per watt.

Light trapping for solar electricity can be dramatically enhanced in ultrathin crystalline silicon wafers by incorporating periodic nanostructures on a solar cell rear side covered with a surface-passivating dielectric material and a metal mirror.

NASA makes prototype ice and water mining lunar robot

NASA has developed a water and ice mining robot for the moon and it is called RASSOR

RASSOR, for Regolith Advanced Surface Systems Operations Robot and pronounced "razor," the autonomous machine is far from space-ready, but the earliest design has shown engineers the broad strokes of what their lunar soil excavator needs in order to operate reliably."We were surprised at what we could do with it," said Rachel Cox, a Kennedy Space Center engineer on the RASSOR team.The primary challenge for any digging robot operating off Earth is that they have to be light and small enough to fly on a rocket, but heavy enough to operate in gravity lower than that of Earth."The lighter you make your robot, the more difficult it is to do this excavating," said A.J. Nick, an engineer on the RASSOR team. RASSOR tackles this problem by using digging bucket drums at each end of the robot's body that rotate in opposite directions, giving enough traction on one end to let the opposite side dig into the soil.The team built a weight off-loading harness that simulated working the rover in the moon's 1/6th gravity field.

January 29, 2013

Reaction Engines Targets Skylon Space Plane test flights for 2019 and Cargo Flights to Space by 2022

Culham Science Centre’s Reaction Engines Ltd has carried out successful tests on a revolutionary rocket engine for its Skylon vehicle. The space plane will be able to reach speeds of more than 19,000 miles an hour – which would cut the journey time from London to Australia to just four hours.

Reaction Engines hopes to run cargo flights to space stations by 2022 and says the craft – which will take off and land from conventional runways – could later be adapted to take tourists towards the stars.

SKYLON will provide aircraft-like access to space to enable:

* Operation from runway to orbit and back
* Order of magnitude reduction in cost vs. existing technology
* 400 x improved reliability
* Responsive access to space

6 Regions in China with a total over 200 million people have per Capita GDP over $10,000

Per capita GDP in six municipalities, provinces and regions including Beijing, Zhejiang and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region surpassed $10,000 in 2012. For the first time, per capita GDP in East China's Zhejiang and Jiangsu provinces as well as North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region surpassed $10,000 in 2012, while the per capita GDP in three municipalities - Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai - stayed above $10,000 last year.

Most economists are projecting 8.2 to 8.4% GDP growth for China in 2013 and 2014.

The World Bank classifies high income economies as those with per capita GDP of $12,476 or more.

Dwave Systems and Quantum Computing Videos

Dwave Systems 512 qubits projected to be 10 billion times faster than an Alienware Workstation for a particular problem

Venture Capitalist Steve Jurvetson (Draper Fisher Jurvetson is an investor in Dwave Systems) describes the speedup for Dwave Systems' Adiabatic Quantum computers.

At 2000 to 4000 qubits, Dwave Systems adiabatic quantum computer should become faster than classical computers for discrete optimization problems. Dwave should reach that level of qubits by about 2015.

Steve Jurvetson Describes How the Scaling Works if the Early Data Extrapolates

If we suspend disbelief for a moment, and use D-Wave’s early data on processing power scaling (see below), then the very near future should be the watershed moment, where quantum computers surpass conventional computers and never look back. Moore’s Law cannot catch up. A year later, it outperforms all computers on Earth combined. Double qubits again the following year, and it outperforms the universe. What the???? you may ask... Meaning, it could solve certain problems that could not be solved by any non-quantum computer, even if the entire mass and energy of the universe was at its disposal and molded into the best possible computer.

It is a completely different way to compute — as David Deutsch posits — harnessing the refractive echoes of many trillions of parallel universes to perform a computation.

First the caveat (the text in white letters on the graph). D-Wave has not built a general-purpose quantum computer. Think of it as an application-specific processor, tuned to perform one task — solving discrete optimization problems. This happens to map to many real world applications, from finance to molecular modeling to machine learning, but it is not going to change our current personal computing tasks. In the near term, assume it will apply to scientific supercomputing tasks and commercial optimization tasks where a heuristic may suffice today, and perhaps it will be lurking in the shadows of an Internet giant’s data center improving image recognition and other forms of near-AI magic. In most cases, the quantum computer would be an accelerating coprocessor to a classical compute cluster.

Second, the assumptions. There is a lot of room for surprises in the next three years. Do they hit a scaling wall or discover a heretofore unknown fracturing of the physics… perhaps finding local entanglement, noise, or some other technical hitch that might not loom large at small scales, but grows exponentially as a problem just as the theoretical performance grows exponentially with scale. I think the risk is less likely to lie in the steady qubit march, which has held true for a decade now, but in the relationship of qubit count to performance.

Dwave is on track to ten thousand qubits by about 2017.

January 28, 2013

Calorie Restricted Telomerase Enhanced Mice Live Longer and Healthier

Fightaging reports that researchers have tried out calorie restriction (CR) on their transgenic telomerase-enhanced (TgTERT) mice, with a wild-type (WT) control group. Apparently calorie restriction somewhat synergizes with the effects of additional telomerase, and thus calorie restricted TgTERT mice live longer than their ad libitum peers. Beyond that, this is also a study of how calorie restriction impacts telomere dynamics, finding that it delays the characteristic erosion of telomeres with age - which is consistent with the body of research showing calorie restriction to slow almost all other measurable aspects of aging.

PLOS One - Telomerase Reverse Transcriptase Synergizes with Calorie Restriction to Increase Health Span and Extend Mouse Longevity

Table Top Neutral-Atom Accelerators - Scaling to Million Electron Volt Energies

Accelerating neutral atoms, contrary to laser-based as well as conventional particle accelerators, is a formidable feat, given the inert, ‘neutral’ response of these atoms to accelerating fields. Our recent studies provide a crucial breakthrough in the generation of accelerated neutral atoms, with energies as large as an MeV, as a result of the interaction of intense lasers with nanoclusters.

Laser-based plasma accelerators, on the contrary, follow radically different acceleration schemes and can produce GeV electron bunches in a ‘wakefield-accelerator’ as well as proton energies of 60 mega-electron-volts (MeV) in a so-called ‘target-normal sheath acceleration’ (TNSA).

How do we accelerate neutral particles- i.e. particles that cannot be energized by electrical voltages? And do it over millimeters rather than hundreds of meters and moreover using lasers? Research at Ultra Short Pulse High Intensity Lab in TIFR has now found a novel scheme that can do precisely this. The concept uses the ability of powerful lasers to strip nearly 8 electrons per atom in a nano sized, cooled aggregate of argon atoms- a nano piece of ice. A 40,000 atom cluster of argon is charged to 320,000 by a laser that lasts only a 100 billionth of a millionth of a second. Such a super highly charged ice piece explodes soon after, accelerating the charged atoms (Ions) to a million electron volts of energy. The TIFR research now found that all the expelled electrons can be put back into the charged ion that has been accelerated so that it now reverts to being a neutral atom but at high energies. To top it all, this process is nearly 100% efficient at neutralizing the speeding ions and converting them to fast atoms!

Accelerated neutral atoms are very important for many applications. Unaffected by electric or magnetic fields, they penetrate deeper in solids than electrons/ions and thereby create high finesse microstructures for novel electronics and optical devices. Fast atoms are used both as diagnostics and heating sources in Tokomak machines like the ITER (International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor) in France, that are being developed to create sustained thermo-nuclear fusion. The TIFR scheme can produce a point source of fast neutral atoms close to the location of an intended application.

Caption: Highly charged Argon ions (orange) exploding from a nanocluster are reduced to neutrals (blue) in a mm accelerator due to dense excited clusters (green). Credit: Dr. Rajeev Rajendran, TIFR

Restarting half of Japan’s nuclear reactors could save $20 billion per year

Japan can cut its power costs by 30 percent if it restarts at least half the country’s 50 nuclear reactors by 2014, a government adviser said. The savings would amount to 1.8 trillion yen ($20.3 billion), the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, a Tokyo- based research group known as IEEJ, said in report posted today on its website. The country paid an estimated 6 trillion yen last year for its liquefied natural gas imports, twice as much as the year before, Yukio Edano, the country’s former trade and industry minister, said at a conference in September.

The government has tried to fill in the energy gap with more financially and environmentally costly alternatives such as fossil fuel and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Japan imported twice as much LNG in year compared to the previous 12 months, which cost it 6 trillion yen (US$67.7 billion). An IEEJ associate warns of a potential economic catastrophe if the country does not return to nuclear power. While majority of the public expressed opposition to the use of nuclear power, it still opted to elect into office a party that is known to be pro-nuclear.

You Asked For It. You Got It. Flying Cars

A recent NBC News (KCRA) report indicates that Paul Moller (after 50 years) is finally going to release a flying car (Sky Car 200). Moller has a partner with $80 million in funding from Athena Technologies and serious interest from China for a flying car production plant.

Paul Moller has previously been sued for fraud and went through bankruptcy in 2009.

Under the provisions of the memorandum, Moller International will team with this US company-led JV to jointly produce numerous models of its vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft. The JV will initially invest $80 million (USD) of a planned $480 million investment with the objective of producing a variety of VTOL aircraft by 2014. Production will include the Skycar® 200 LS, Skycar® 400, Skycar® 600 and Neuera™ aircraft.

MI is to retain its Intellectual Property (IP) while providing the JV with aircraft designs, ready-to-install Rotapower® rotary aviation engines, and the requirements for the airframe and flight control system hardware to be produced in China.

The M400 Skycar can cruise comfortably at 275 MPH (maximum speed of 375 MPH) and achieve up to 20 miles per gallon on clean burning, ethanol fuel.

The M400X Skycar prototype shown in an unmanned hover demonstration flight.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Still no evidence or corroboration of Iranian Explosion but source claims Iranian retaliation will confirm his version

Haaretz summarizes the muted responses to rumors of an explosion at Iran's Fordow nuclear plant.

By Monday morning, a few respectable media organizations seemed to be taking the news more seriously than when it first emerged, but carried little information or details that could verify the report.

The Times of London reported that an "Israeli official" had acknowledged that there had been an incident at Fordow and that the Israeli government was still investigating the situation. The German daily Die Welt confirmed the report from a "source in the Iranian intelligence service." The U.S. media, meanwhile, quoted an administration source who doubted the credibility of the report, and the deputy chairman of Iran's nuclear energy commission on Sunday night also denied the report.

The identity of the report's author leads to the disbelief: Reza Kahlili, an Iranian exile with an interesting past who is well known to many reporters covering intelligence and Iranian affairs.

Beyond his questionable credibility, there is no supporting evidence. If a large explosion did occur at Fordow a week ago, why have no satellite photos appeared of dozens of vehicles on the site involved in rescue operations? And if there are 240 workers trapped underground, how come no worried relatives have expressed concern on one of the social networks? Iran may have a repressive regime, but tens of millions of citizens are connected to the Internet and are experts at evading the regime's attempts to monitor and filter their communications. Something would have come out by now.

Carnival of Space 286

January 27, 2013

Rumors that Iran's Fordow uranium enrichment facility has been partially destroyed in an explosion

A report claiming that a mysterious blast rocked the Fordow uranium enrichment facility in Iran last week made headlines in Israel on Sunday, but remained unverified.

According to the report, penned by former Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Reza Kahlili, for the WND.com website, the explosion “destroyed much of the installation and trapped about 240 personnel deep underground.”

Kahlili, who says he turned CIA agent in the 1980s and 90s, cited a “source in the security forces protecting Fordow” as saying that the blast occurred last Monday at Fordow, which is located deep inside a mountain to protect it from aerial attack.

“The blast shook facilities within a radius of three miles. Security forces have enforced a no-traffic radius of 15 miles, and the Tehran- Qom highway was shut down for several hours after the blast,” the report adde

130 mph Airships that can land without ground crews

Aeros has completed its experimental rigid variable-bouyancy airship and accomplished the first of four tasks under its contract with the Pentagon's Rapid Reaction Technology Office. The 230ft-long Aeroscraft prototype, called Pelican, has completed a ground-handling demonstration showing the 36,000lb vehicle can move without assistance from ground personnel, controlled from the cockpit and using its air-bearing landing gear. The Pelican was heavier than air for the demonstration.

A first float test principally demonstrated the unique lightweight rigid structure conception and Control of Static Heaviness (COSH) system of this radical airlift vehicle and met a key Aeroscraft performance goal: operate without ballast, ground infrastructure or handling.

The Aeroscraft controls its buoyancy by pumping helium between lifting-gas cells and pressurized tanks inside the composite aeroshell. Compressing the helium makes the vehicle heavier than air for easier ground handling and cargo unloading. Releasing the helium displaces air inside the vehicle and makes it neutrally buoyant.

The buoyancy control system can vary the Pelican's "static heaviness" by 3,000-4,000lb, says Pasternak, enough to allow the prototype to take off vertically, yet be heavier than air for landing and unloading. All of the tests are taking place inside Aeros' airship hangar in Tustin, California, with the vehicle expected to reach a height of 10-15ft. Aeros wants to build a 450ft-long vehicle able to carry a 66-ton payload over a 3,000nm unrefueled range.

It uses one third of the fuel of airplanes. This type of vehicle could displace helicopters and some niches from trucks.

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