April 20, 2013

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA exploring inflatable moon base and other human exploration missions

Cosmislog - Bigelow Aerospace and NASA say they've agreed to look at ways for private ventures to contribute to human exploration missions, perhaps including construction of a moon base.

NASA signed a Space Act Agreement with Bigelow Aerospace to foster ideas about how the private sector can contribute to future human missions. NASA still is focused on a mission to an Asteroid by 2025 and human missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Bigelow Aerospace is focused on moon bases.The Nevada-based company has been working on moonbase concepts for years. During a recent interview on the "Coast to Coast AM" radio show, billionaire founder Robert Bigelow said the potential objectives for private-sector space efforts include a lunar base as well as space stations or refueling depots placed at gravitational balance points in the Earth-moon system.

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA already have an agreement to put an inflatable module on the International Space Station by 2015.

Coal and Oil are still beating all other energy

Renewables energy and nuclear power have not kept up with coal, let alone decreased its use. From 2001 to 2010, the amount of electricity generated with coal increased by 2,700 terawatt hours. Over the same period, electricity from non-fossil sources—including wind, solar, biomass, hydropower, and nuclear—increased by less than half that amount: or 1,300 terawatt hours.

Worldwide, more coal power is being installed because it’s inexpensive, reliable, and easy to incorporate into the grid. Before countries decide to stop building new coal plants, wind and solar and other low-carbon alternatives need to get cheaper.

Worldwide subsidies for fossil fuels, which at $523 billion are six times higher than subsidies for renewable energy. The fossil fuel subsidies do not include giving fossil fuels a free ride on air and water pollution.

Some estimate that China is losing about 7% of its GDP due to environmental damage for air and water pollution. A rough estimate is that air and water pollution from fossil fuel is costing the world about $1.4 trillion (2% of global GDP)

IEA indicates no overall global progress to clean energy over the last 20 years

“The drive to clean up the world’s energy system has stalled,” IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven told the CEM, which brings together ministers representing countries responsible for four-fifths of global greenhouse-gas emissions. “Despite much talk by world leaders, and despite a boom in renewable energy over the last decade, the average unit of energy produced today is basically as dirty as it was 20 years ago.”

The IEA report, Tracking Clean Energy Progress, introduces the Energy Sector Carbon Intensity Index (ESCII), which shows how much carbon dioxide is emitted, on average, to provide a given unit of energy. The ESCII stood at 2.39 tonnes of CO2 per tonne of oil equivalent (tCO2/toe) in 1990, and had barely moved by 2010, holding at 2.37 tCO2/toe.

Google Fiber in Kansas, Olathe, Austin and Provo will cover area with population of 1.7 million

Boston Marathon Bomber Actions May End up Killing Way More Chechnyans than Americans

Chechnya already had Russia as an enemy. Chechnya had some outside report during its last conflicts with Russia. If Chechnya has no support and no sympathizers this would seem likely to end up with a bad result for Chechnya. The actions of the Boston Marathon bombers may end up killing way more Chechnyans than Americans over the next ten years.

Russian commentators are speculating that a Chechen connection in the Boston Marathon bombings will force the United States to reassess its view of the Kremlin’s actions in the troubled Caucasus region.

“Russia has long warned the Americans that flirting with various separatist and terrorist organizations of the North Caucasus would not lead to anything good,” Sergei Mikheyev, a political analyst, told the Pravda news Web site.

Looking back to Russia’s two military campaigns against Chechen separatists in the 1990s, Mr. Mikheyev said, “It is an open secret that separatists enjoyed the support from external forces for quite a long period of time, including the Americans and their allies from other countries.”

China targets natural gas to supply 8% of energy by 2015 and increase from 4% now and needs to copy and adapt US natural gas success

China’s national planners enthusiastically back boosting natural gas production, which accounts for just 4 percent of the country’s total energy mix now. The government wants to double that share by 2015. This would make natural gas a larger contributor than hydroelectric in China and put it third behind coal and oil. The displacing 4% of coal would reduce emissions by 2%. This would help slow the growth of CO2 emissions in China.

The impact of a shale-gas boom in China will be enormous, with the potential benefits and likely environmental costs perhaps even greater than in the U.S. So far, though, the output in China has been a trickle because of the challenging geography and the monopolistic structure of China’s oil and gas sector. While about 200,000 of the horizontal wells used in fracking have been drilled in the U.S., China has about 60. China has 1,275 trillion cubic feet of shale-gas reserves, compared with 637 trillion cubic feet for the U.S.

Most analysts think it’s only a question of time before large-scale commercial shale-gas production starts in China. IHS Cera’s Zhou predicts the industry must travel a “long and winding road” well into the 2020s before China’s shale gas is an important domestic energy source. Martin Stauble, who runs Royal Dutch Shell’s exploration and production in China, is more optimistic: He says commercial development “is likely to be in a three- to five-year time frame.” Shell is working with CNPC in Sichuan and Shaanxi provinces, and spending about $1 billion annually on exploration in China.

China will struggle to score a commercial success with its shale gas due to difficult geology and the absence of risk-taking players.

Natural gas has half the CO2 emissions of Coal and cut US Emissions by 12%

Natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal when used to make electricity, though the calculation fails to take into account the release of methane from natural-gas wells and pipelines, which also contributes to climate change.The EIA had a report on US emissions.

In 2012, 30% of power in the U.S. came from burning natural gas, up from 19% in 2005, driven by drilling technologies that have unlocked large and inexpensive new supplies of the fuel. Overall US carbon emissions are down by 12% between 2005 and 2012.

The US, Europe, Japan and Canada have been able to reduce carbon emissions by a combined 1 billion tons of CO2 from 2005 to 2011. China, India and Russia have increased carbon emissions by 4 billion tons of CO2 from 2005 to 2011.

April 19, 2013

Wireless optogenetic control of the brains of modified animals using cellular scale optoelectronics

Optogenetics, a recently developed technique that uses light to map and control brain activity, requires the genetic modification of an animal’s brain cells and the insertion of optical fibers and electrical wire into its brain. The bulky wires and fibers emerge from the skull, hampering the animal’s movement and making it difficult to perform certain experiments that could lead to breakthroughs for Parkinson’s disease, addiction, depression, and spinal cord injuries.

But now, a new ultrathin, flexible device laden with light-emitting diodes and sensors, both the size of individual brain cells, promises to make optogenetics completely wireless. The 20-micrometer-thick device can be safely injected deep into the brain and controlled and powered using radio-frequency signals. Its developers say the technology could also be used in other parts of the body, with broad implications for medical diagnosis and therapy.

In optogenetics, scientists genetically modify neurons to make them sensitive to particular wavelengths of light. Shining light on the altered neurons turns them on or off, allowing scientists to control specific brain circuits and change animal behavior.

Science - Injectable, Cellular-Scale Optoelectronics with Applications for Wireless Optogenetics

High Energy Costs are Making Europe Even more Uncompetitive

Members of the European Parliament were more concerned about any further raising of energy costs that some European companies already say are putting them at a competitive disadvantage.

Europe is lurching through an energy crisis that in many respects parallels its seemingly unending economic crisis. Across Europe, consumer groups, governments and manufacturers are asking how their future energy needs can be met affordably and responsibly.

It is a question that is far more acute than in the United States, where the shale gas revolution has done wonders to ease energy angst. “Europeans are getting increasingly concerned about energy,” said Corin Taylor, an analyst at the Institute of Directors, a British business group. “Manufacturers are looking at U.S. energy prices with envy, and if they can, they are making investments in North America.”

European countries have yet to demonstrate that they can or in some cases even want to exploit their own potential shale gas troves. At the same time, most of Europe’s indigenous sources of oil and natural gas are in decline, making increased dependence on imports almost inevitable.

Here is a comparison of household electricity prices by country from a 2012 Australian study.

Weaker Yen Increases the Urgency to Restore Japan's Nuclear Energy

A set of policies in Japan known as “Abenomics” is making a return to nuclear power ever more pressing. The LDP is expected to push hard to restart plants if it wins a crucial election for the upper house of parliament this summer. Mr Abe’s focus on the economy has given greater say to the voice of business, including the big utilities whose plants are idle. Smaller firms clamor for cheaper power too.

Japan’s broader economic future may be at stake. The trade deficit widened to 8.2 trillion yen ($83 billion) for the fiscal year 2012, nearly double the gap of 4.4 trillion yen in 2011, after decades of surplus. This leads to worries about the overall current-account balance; its deterioration could affect Japan’s ability to keep funding its huge public debt domestically. A big cause is the cost of energy imported to fill the gap left by nuclear power. A weaker yen, the result of the central bank’s radical loosening of monetary policy, is further pushing up the price of imported oil and gas.

Having to import expensive resources is complicating the economic strategy of a race to the bottom for the valuation of their currency.

China Commercial Nuclear Reactors and Makes more progress towards exporting the ACP1000 third generation reactor at 10% lower cost than best priced competitors

China has ten light water nuclear reactor designs that are built or are being built. China also has a high temperature pebble bed reactor and a few breeder reactors under construction.

China now has 18 reactors that are operational, which is 4 more than the list below from 2012 is showing

The ACP1000 reactor has gotten its first export contract for a self-developed advanced nuclear reactor, and more global cooperation is under way, said a senior executive of China National Nuclear Corp. The reactor has passed an international review of 40 nuclear experts.

The 1000 MW reactor is going to Pakistan. China is claiming this agreement was grandfathered to sidestep an international agreement not to provide more reactors to Pakistan.

Argentina is also talking to China about ACP1000 reactors. The ACP1000 technology was ready for export to Asian and South American countries.

The contract cost will be 10 percent lower than current third-generation nuclear reactors. The first ACP1000 unit to be constructed will have more than 85 percent of its equipment manufactured domestically, and the price can be reduced further if the localization rate improves in the future.

CNNC is also looking to the European and North American markets, but exports to these regions first have to obtain approval from local authorities.

“We have submitted an application to the International Atomic Energy Association for a review of the ACP1000, which will help us get the permits to export to Europe and North America,” he said.

This list from 2012 is missing the ACP100. The ACP 100 is a small modular light water reactor that is a miniature version of the ACP1000

On the Path to Commercializing a $20,000 Very Light Car with over 100 mpge

In 2011, Edison 2 built an electrically powered Very Light Car (VLC) and won the Xprize for high fuel efficiency. The four-seat streamliner achieved a record 245 mpg-e in the five-cycle EPA test.

The VLC 4.0 is the result of a move to make commercial vehicles. It replaces the race car-like tube-frame chassis of earlier VLCs with an aluminum sheetmetal center section similar to an Indy-Car tub

Edison2′s Oliver Kuttner, a former Audi, BMW and Porsche dealer, estimates that a road-legal version will weigh 1,400-pounds and could be had for as little as $20,000 with a traditional engine and something in the mid-$20k range with a gas-electric drivetrain.

Edison2 believes that a battery-electric version would limit efficiency because of the weight of the battery. Instead, a small engine would be the best solution for maximum efficiency, with Kuttner claiming that a 250cc engine would be capable of getting the VLC 4.0 safely up to highway speeds and only requiring six horsepower to maintain a 60 mph cruising speed.

Edison 2's patented “in-wheel” suspension is the most innovative (and likely most commercially attractive) aspect of the project. The suspension could be licensed to other car makers.

The VLC architecture is a “new operating system.” We may see bits of it in entry-level cars of the future.

Carnival of Space 297

The Carnival of Space 297 is up at Dear Astronomer

The Meridiani Nournal reports New space telescope will continue search for Earth-like worlds

The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), a project of MIT, was selected by NASA as part of its Explorer Program to launch in 2017 and will be funded by a $200 million grant. It will use wide-field cameras to search for planets, both small and large, orbiting the brightest stars near the sun.

So how does it differ from Kepler and other previous planet-hunting space telescopes? According to principal investigator George Ricker, “TESS will carry out the first space-borne all-sky transit survey, covering 400 times as much sky as any previous mission. It will identify thousands of new planets in the solar neighborhood, with a special focus on planets comparable in size to the Earth.”

It will have the capability of measuring the orbits, sizes, masses, densities and atmospheres of the planets it finds. This includes rocky planets like Earth orbiting in the habitable zones of their stars.

Artist’s conception of TESS. Credit: Chet Beals / MIT Lincoln Lab

April 18, 2013

Age and Crime and Radical Life Extension

Crime peaks around age 17 or 18. Age and the Explanation of Crime, Revisited from the University of Arizona re-examines age and crime. They followed 1,300 serious juvenile offenders in Phoenix and Philadelphia over a seven-year period. They controlled for 40 different things that were changing over these seven years. The researchers were able to explain more than two-thirds of the drop in crime between the ages of 15 to 25 using the 40 variables, but couldn’t account for the remaining 30 percent.

If everyone had the biological age of 20 with radical life extension would they commit crime at a higher rate or would they commit crime at levels of their mental age ? Would crime rates be at a 30% boost over their mental age ?

I think that if there was say radical life extension where people lived indeterminantly long lives and the average age was 100 where people were biologically 20, then there would still be very low crime rates. Lower than some populations now with average ages of 40-45.

List of countries by median age in wikipedia.

Homicide rates by country

China's economy is shifting to Services and the Chinese leadership now has a mix of Engineers and Economists

China's output of services are poised to overtake its industrial production in 2013.

China's GDP report brings that crossover even closer. In the past four quarters (running from the second quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013), services and industry accounted for the same amount of China's GDP.

China's service sector (which includes transport, wholesaling, retailing, hotels, catering, finance, and real estate among other things) is still unusually small. In other economies at China's stage of development, services typically account for about 55-60% of GDP. Prices for services have also been rising faster than industrial prices, contributing to the shift in their favor.

Robotic Cars Could Enable Super-suburb cities

Cityminded notes two ways that cities will change with driverless cars.

* Cities will greatly expand, again: Faster and more efficient transportation will convert locations that are currently too remote for most users into feasible alternatives, abundant with space. Like suburban rail in the early twentieth century and the mass consumer automobile that followed, driverless cars will generate a gradual, but dramatic expansion of cities.

* Buildings and parking will be uncoupled, freeing up valuable land: After dropping off passengers, driverless cars will independently seek parking (or their next car-share customers) and they will show up for the return ride at the tap of an app. As soon as driverless cars are common enough, the demand for adjacent parking will dwindle and parking lots in areas where land is sufficiently valuable will be ripe for conversion to other land use. As parking in high-value areas is thinned out or altogether purged, the micro-structure of cities will change – you guessed it – dramatically!

Cars in 2020

Motorists in 2020 will have a widening choice of super-efficient gas and diesel cars, hybrids (which switch between batteries and an internal-combustion engine) and models that run on natural gas or hydrogen. There will be some electric cars (more than now) but they will remain a relatively small segment.

The Road to Driverless Cars

A variety of “driver assistance” technologies are appearing on new cars, which will not only take a lot of the stress out of driving in traffic but also prevent many accidents. More and more new cars can reverse-park, read traffic signs, maintain a safe distance in steady traffic and brake automatically to avoid crashes. Some carmakers are promising technology that detects pedestrians and cyclists, again overruling the driver and stopping the vehicle before it hits them. A number of firms, including Google, are busy trying to take driver assistance to its logical conclusion by creating cars that drive themselves to a chosen destination without a human at the controls. This is where it gets exciting.

Sergey Brin, a co-founder of Google, predicts that driverless cars will be ready for sale to customers within five years. That may be optimistic, but the prototypes that Google already uses to ferry its staff (and a recent visitor from The Economist) along Californian freeways are impressive.

As sensors and assisted-driving software demonstrate their ability to cut accidents, regulators will move to make them compulsory for all new cars. Insurers are already pressing motorists to accept black boxes that measure how carefully they drive: these will provide a mass of data which is likely to show that putting the car on autopilot is often safer than driving it.

The colossal toll of deaths and injuries from road accidents—1.2m killed a year worldwide, and 2m hospital visits a year in America alone—should tumble down, along with the costs to health systems and insurers.

Driverless cars should also ease congestion and save fuel.

DARPA program that produces gigapixel camera now has infrared pixels smaller than infrared wavelength for smaller and cheaper infrared cameras

The military uses long-wave infrared (LWIR) cameras as thermal imagers to detect humans at night. These cameras are usually mounted on vehicles as they are too large to be carried by a single warfighter and are too expensive for individual deployment. However, DARPA researchers recently demonstrated a new five-micron pixel LWIR camera that could make this class of camera smaller and less expensive. A sensor six times smaller would make it around 36 times cheaper to make.

DARPA's Advanced Wide FOV Architectures for Image Reconstruction and Exploitation (AWARE) program has demonstrated the first LWIR camera that uses pixels only five microns across. This is the first IR camera with pixels about half the size of the photons it detects. For comparison, each pixel is about one twelfth the size of a human hair, or about one-sixth the area of current state-of-the-art. The pixels are configured in a 1280x720 focal plane array (FPA)—a relatively high resolution for an IR camera.

The five-micron-pixel infrared camera. Photo: Darpa

April 17, 2013

Proof of Quantum Annealing in over 100 qubits in Dwave Quantum Computer and speedups over classical will be very clear in the 512 qubit system

Experiments ( by researchers at USC, ETH Zurich, and the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology, Microsoft Research) have demonstrated that quantum annealing with more than one hundred qubits takes place in the D-Wave One device, despite limited qubit coherence times. The key evidence is the rich, correlation between the success probabilities on the device and a simulated quantum annealer. In particular we see a bimodal distribution of easy and hard instances, where the hard instances are characterized by avoided level crossings with small gaps. Sensitivity to these small gaps of the quantum model demonstrates that the device has sufficient ground state quantum coherence to realize a quantum annealing of a transverse field Ising model. Considering the pure annealing time, the performance for typical (median) instances matches that of a highly optimised classical annealing code on a high-end Intel CPU.

While for 108 spins a majority of optimization problems is still relatively easy, experiments using up to 512 spins on the next generation device will enter a very interesting regime where almost all instances become hard for both simulated annealing and simulated quantum annealing. Simulated annealers require about three orders of magnitude more computational effort for N = 512 spins compared to N = 108 spins for our problems, and there will be potential to see advantages of a quantum annealer over classical algorithms.

Quantum speedup can then be detected by comparing the scaling results of the simulated classical and quantum annealers to experiments, as we discuss in detail in the supplementary material. Going to even larger problem sizes we soon approach the limits of classical computers. Optimistically extrapolating using the observed scaling, the median time to find the best solution for our test problem will increase from milliseconds to minutes for 2048 variables, and months for 4096 variables, and the scaling might be much worse if fat tailed distributions start to dominate, as we had previously observed for other Monte Carlo algorithms. A quantum annealer showing better scaling than classical algorithms for these problem sizes would be an exciting breakthrough, validating the potential of quantum information processing to outperform its classical counterpart.

US Crude oil production over 7.2 million bpd and North Dakota

Microbattery breakthrough a cellphone size battery can jumpstart a car battery and it charges 1000 times faster

The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery – and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye.

Developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the new microbatteries out-power even the best supercapacitors and could drive new applications in radio communications and compact electronics.

The batteries owe their high performance to their internal three-dimensional microstructure. Batteries have two key components: the anode (minus side) and cathode (plus side). Building on a novel fast-charging cathode design by materials science and engineering professor Paul Braun’s group, King and Pikul developed a matching anode and then developed a new way to integrate the two components at the microscale to make a complete battery with superior performance.

With so much power, the batteries could enable sensors or radio signals that broadcast 30 times farther, or devices 30 times smaller. The batteries are rechargeable and can charge 1,000 times faster than competing technologies – imagine juicing up a credit-card-thin phone in less than a second. In addition to consumer electronics, medical devices, lasers, sensors and other applications could see leaps forward in technology with such power sources available.

“Any kind of electronic device is limited by the size of the battery – until now,” King said. “Consider personal medical devices and implants, where the battery is an enormous brick, and it’s connected to itty-bitty electronics and tiny wires. Now the battery is also tiny.”

mage courtesy of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
The graphic illustrates a high power battery technology from the University of Illinois. Ions flow between three-dimensional micro-electrodes in a lithium ion battery.

PSY has the formula for repeatably making videos that will get over 1 billion views

South Korean rapper has PSY apparently cracked the formula for repeatably making Youtube videos that have or will get over 1 billion views.

His Gangnam Style video has over 1.5 billion views

His new Gentleman video has over 110 million views in just over 4 days.

I like his concert video

April 16, 2013

Discussing Efficiency and Innovation as paths to economic growth

Matthew Yglesias talked about the distinction between increased efficiency in the allocation of resources and fundamental innovation. Either can produce economic growth, but he feels in the long-term fundamental innovation that matters most of all.

Yglesisas says San Francisco is a hotbed of inefficiency it's also a hotbed of real innovation. The corridor that starts in San Francisco and runs down to San Jose is the premiere cluster of technological innovation in the world and has been for some time

Here are problems with Matthew article. He talks about San Francisco's population (about 800,000) but then credits the innovation of Silicon Valley and San Jose and other parts of the Peninsula to San Francisco. He speak like the artistic innovation of San Francisco is the key driver of economic growth that resulted from the computer and internet revolutions. This is a fundamental mistake because he is attributing developments that came from cities with 2 million other people solely to the artistic city that they are near. His analysis then assumes that the arts and artists in San Francisco were critical to the development of PCs and the internet and the various companies that emerged. This is a sweeping and wrong view.

Cities, regions and countries are now rising to challenge silicon valley giants and they often do not have an artistic city component. An alternative view is that science and technology investments with a large military component were critical.

Systematic Analysis of Innovation for national economic growth

The Global Innovation Index is a global index measuring the level of innovation of a country, produced jointly by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), and The Manufacturing Institute (MI), the NAM's nonpartisan research affiliate. NAM describes it as the "largest and most comprehensive global index of its kind".

The International Innovation Index is part of a large research study that looked at both the business outcomes of innovation and government's ability to encourage and support innovation through public policy. The study comprised a survey of more than 1,000 senior executives from NAM member companies across all industries; in-depth interviews with 30 of the executives; and a comparison of the "innovation friendliness" of 110 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The findings are published in the report, "The Innovation Imperative in Manufacturing: How the United States Can Restore Its Edge."

The report discusses not only country performance but also what companies are doing and should be doing to spur innovation. It looks at new policy indicators for innovation, including tax incentives and policies for immigration, education and intellectual property.

Unacceptably high technological unemployment and significantly unaffordable entitlements can both happen

Nextbigfuture is technologically optimistic but combination bad future scenarios can happen.

Matthew Yglesias makes the argument that we cannot have both the technological unemployment scenario and the unaffordable entitlements scenario.

I understand why people worry about technological unemployment. And I understand why people worry about rising entitlement spending burdens. What I don't understand is why people worry about them both simultaneously. In the technological unemployment world, we'll be able to give everyone a 2013 level of consumption goods with a radically diminished workforce, raising the question of what everyone is going to actually do. To optimists, this simply amounts to ushering in an era of utopian socialism, but to pessimists it smacks of decadence and decay.

The other worry is the opposite of this one. It's that in the future a very large share of our population will be elderly nonworkers and a very large share of our workforce will be dedicated to taking care of elderly nonworkers ("skyrocketing health care costs"), and that consequently younger people's living standards will diminish or stagnate.

Either of those things could happen, but they can't both happen. A world of widespread technological unemployment is a world in which productivity-enhancing technology is allowing us to care for the elderly in some as-yet-unknown low-cost manner. If that doesn't happen, and health care costs continue to skyrocket, we'll simply be seeing a structural shift in the patterns of employment. At some point we stopped needing very many farmers to produce enough food to eat, so workers went to factories, and we increased our consumption of manufactured goods. If robots and Chinese people can make the manufactured goods, then workers will go to hospitals and nursing homes, and we'll be able to cope with the needs of an aging population. Alternatively, if robots can also take care of the elderly, then it really isn't obvious where the labor demand will come from, but there's going to be no entitlement crisis—just a clash of social values between moralists and utopians about how to build a leisure society.

So total technological unemployment will not happen in combination with a complete entitlement crisis. However, it could occur that say there is say 20 to 50% unemployment and 20-50% of the workforce taking care of the elderly and supporting medical programs.

Europe has high unemployment and in particular high youth unemployment. They have a high skills mismatch. Also, with outsourcing the employment for particular skills might go a lot more to foreign workers. Either foreign H1B workers or complete outsourcing.

There are also scenarios that look like countries in Africa or the Philippines, where a small number of wealthy people get all of their services and the servant class is employed by massively poor.

NASA wants to spend $105 million to capture a small asteroid

Planetary Resources talks about NASA's plan to bag an asteroid. $105 Million has now been proposed for starting work on an asteroid retrieval and utilization mission in NASA’s official FY2014 budget.

NASA identified three areas for accelerated development:

* Asteroid observing efforts to identify target asteroids (twice current funding, 10x from a few years ago)

* Development of new technologies to encounter and capture the asteroid

* Demonstration of new propulsion technologies to power the mission to reposition the asteroid

In the three years since the President announced the goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025, this is the first major new activity specifically towards this goal. As audacious as it may seem, Planetary Resources feels that the proposed mission represents bold new thinking about developing our capabilities in space. It provides a number of opportunities for human and robotic exploration to work together, and also for the public and private sector to partner in furthering our presence in space.

Lighter Exoskeleton will allow disabled to more independent

Vanderbilt University exoskeleton weighs about 27 pounds, nearly half the weight of the other models that weigh around 45 pounds. The other models are also bulkier so most users wearing them cannot fit into a standard-sized wheelchair.

Parker has licensed the exoskeleton and plans to release Indego exoskeleton in 2014.

* Indego is small enough to accommodate low profile wheelchairs.

* Indego allows users to stand and walk on all surfaces including stairs and gain access to areas not accessible via a wheelchair.

* Indego weighs just 27 pounds and snaps apart into three pieces for maximum convenience.

Indego is 40-50% lighter than competing devices and provides a modular design that can be assembled and dis-assembled for ease of use and transportation. This device is also smaller, with a slim profile and no bulky backpack components or footplates. A proprietary control interface allows for smooth operation that works in harmony with natural human movement and body position. Indego is the only wearable device that incorporates a proven rehabilitation technology called functional electrical stimulation.

April 15, 2013

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 152

Off topic - Boston Marathon Explosions

Two explosions shattered the euphoria of the Boston Marathon finish line on Monday, sending authorities out on the course to carry off the injured while the stragglers in the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton were rerouted away from the smoking site of the blasts.

A federal law-enforcement source confirmed to The Post there are at least 12 dead and nearly 50 injured.
Reports are that there are 3 dead and about 144 injured (as of 10:38 PM Apr 15 PST).
Fox News reported that Massachusetts General Hospital was treating 10 people with amputated limbs and all operating rooms were on hold.

Authorities have a identified a suspect, a Saudi national, who is currently being guarded in a Boston hospital with shrapnel wounds.

Law enforcement sources said the 20-year-old suspect was under guard at an undisclosed Boston hospital.

AP - “Intelligence official: 2 more explosive devices found at Boston Marathon; being dismantled.”

Boston Herald has breaking news of a third explosion at JFK library

NY Times has a diagram of the explosions.

SOURCE - NY Post, AP, NY Times, Boston Herald

April 14, 2013

TSMC CEO sees Moore's Law continuing to 7 nanometers and beyond

Previously AMD said they thought they saw the end of Moore's law.

AMD claims that the delay in transitioning from 28nm to 20nm highlights the beginning of the end for Moore's Law. John Gustafson, chief graphics product architect at AMD, has said that Moore's Law is ending because it actually refers to a doubling of transistors that are economically viable to produce.

Taiwan Semiconductor CEO says it looks like we have another seven to eight years ahead in advances -- maybe more -- we can see in technology down to 10 and even 7 nm.

3D Robotics for open source drones- your plastic flying robot buddy - making drones easy - the super-easy, super-cheap drone revolution is coming

3D Robotics is the leading open source unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology company. It was founded in 2009 by Chris Anderson (founder of DIY Drones) and Jordi Munoz, and today is a professional, venture-backed enterprise with more than 70 employees across three offices in San Diego (engineering), Berkeley (business and sales) and Tijuana (manufacturing).

3D Robotics designs and manufactures electronics and aerial vehicles, including multicopters and airplanes. It created the APM autopilot line, along with the ArduCopter and ArduPlane UAVs. It is the commercial sponsor of the DIY Drones community and the exclusive manufacturing partner of the Pixhawk UAV research team at the renowned Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH).

They want to take toys (flying radio controlled planes) and add brains.
He started 5 years ago with lego and made a uav autopilot for a radio controlled plane.
He created DIY Drones for a large community of people to share the work and efforts to make drones.
He is taking military grade technology at toy prices.

Personal camera droid. Push a button and have a flying droid take off and film you from the air and follow you around.

We are now using cellphone technology for inexpensive commercial drones. There is something magic going on in your pocket [the smartphone]. It’s the peace dividend of the smart phone wars. With a $90 drone, they don’t have to come back. You can double the range when they don’t have to come back. You can waste drones to get the job done. That’s what we did in Silicon Valley with transistors, and now we can do it with robotics.

DARPA just made a guidance chip that is smaller than a dime that has acceleromaters and gyros. The autopilot could go from $179 to less than a dollar.

Clearly the super-easy, super cheap drone revolution is coming

What does DIY Drones have to offer?
The DIY Drones community has created the world's first "universal autopilot", ArduPilot Mega (APM). It combines sophisticated IMU-based autopilot electronics with free Arduino-based autopilot software that can turn any RC vehicle into a fully-autonomous UAV.

A full setup consists of:
APM 2.5 autopilot: The electronics, including twin processors, gyros, accelerometers, pressure sensors, GPS and more (shown below). Available from 3D Robotics ($179).

Mission Planner software: Desktop software that lets you manage APM and plan missions, along with being a powerful ground station during flights and helping you analyze mission logs afterwards.

Autopilot software:
Arduplane: for any fixed-wing aircraft
Arducopter: for any rotary-wing aircraft
ArduRover: for any ground- or water-based vehicle

The Maker Revolution

Chris Anderson focuses on innovation in terms of the new technology driven industrial revolution. Today's entrepreneurs, using open source design and 3-D printing, are bringing manufacturing to the desktop. This DIY movement coupled with social networking is creating a new world of crowd-sourced design and production. Do It Yourself!: What are the implications of the worldwide Maker revolution?

Chris revisits the industrial revolution and how fantastic it was.
Productivity sky rockets. Cities are mass produced and modernity is created.
Quality of living vastly improves.

1. Industrial revolution he feel starts at 1776
2. Information age - PCs the democratization of information
3. The combination of the information age and industrial revolution. The maker revolution.

123D catch application for 3D scans of reality

123D design application for modifying 3D designs

Send 3D files to Thingaverse to print them out for $20.
Send 3D files to Alibaba to have chinese factories produce thousands of them.

World Energy Usage in 2012

The developed countries of the OECD saw almost flat electricity generation in 2012 relative to 2011. There was a decrease of 0.4%. The OECD includes the US, Canada, Mexico, Europe, South Korea, Chile and Japan.

China's generating capacity in 2012 was 4977.4 TWh, an increase of 5.2%
Hydro generating 864.1 TWh, an increase of 29.3%;
Thermal power (mainly coal) 3910.8 TWh up by 0.3%
Nuclear power 98.2 TWh, up by 12.6%
Wind power 100.4 TWh, up 35.5%
Solar power generation 3.5 TWh, up by 414%.

The IEA still projects the world will burn around 1.2 billion more tonnes of coal per year by 2017 compared to today – equivalent to the current coal consumption of Russia and the United States combined. Coal’s share of the global energy mix continues to grow each year. China and India lead the growth in coal consumption over the next five years. The report says China will surpass the rest of the world in coal demand during the outlook period, while India will become the largest seaborne coal importer and second-largest consumer, surpassing the United States

First self-propelled micromotors and microrockets that use the surrounding natural environment as a source of fuel

A team at the University of California, San Diego, has developed two types of self-propelled vehicles — microrockets made of zinc and micromotors made of aluminum. They use fuel from the surrounding environment.

An advance in micromotor technology akin to the invention of cars that fuel themselves from the pavement or air, rather than gasoline or batteries, is opening the door to broad new medical and industrial uses for these tiny devices. Fuel and propulsion systems have been a major barrier in moving science fiction closer to practical reality, Wang explained. Some micromotors and even-smaller nanomotors, for instance, have relied on hydrogen peroxide fuel, which could damage body cells. Others have needed complex magnetic or electronic gear to guide their movement.

“We have developed the first self-propelled micromotors and microrockets that use the surrounding natural environment as a source of fuel,” Wang said. “The stomach, for instance, has a strongly acid environment that helps digest food. Some of our microrockets use that acid as fuel, producing bubbles of hydrogen gas for thrust and propulsion. The use of biocompatible fuels is attractive for avoiding damage to healthy tissue in the body. We envision that these machines could someday perform microsurgery, clean clogged arteries or transport drugs to the right place in the body. But there are also possible uses in cleaning up oil spills, monitoring industrial processes and in national security.”

The tubular zinc micromotor is one of the world’s fastest, able to move 100 times its 0.0004-inch length in just one second. That’s like a sprinter running 400 miles per hour. The zinc lining is biocompatible. It reacts with the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which consists of hydrogen and chloride ions. It releases the hydrogen gas as a stream of tiny bubbles, which propel the motor forward. “This rocket would be ideal to deliver drugs or to capture diseased cells in the stomach,” said Gao.

DARPA Non-GPS guidance chip integrates clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers

DARPA researchers at the University of Michigan have made significant progress with a timing and inertial measurement unit (TIMU) that contains everything needed to aid navigation when GPS is temporarily unavailable. The single chip TIMU prototype contains a six axis IMU (three gyroscopes and three accelerometers) and integrates a highly-accurate master clock into a single miniature system, smaller than the size of a penny. This chip integrates breakthrough devices (clocks, gyroscopes and accelerometers), materials and designs from DARPA’s Micro-Technology for Positioning, Navigation and Timing (Micro-PNT) program.

Bose Einstein condensate could be used for communication in a future quantum computer

Quantum computers promise to perform certain types of operations much more quickly than conventional digital computers. The loss of order in quantum systems is a problem known as quantum decoherence, which worsens as the number of bits in a quantum computer increases. One proposed solution is to divide the computing among multiple small quantum computers that would work together much as today’s multi-core supercomputers team up to tackle big digital operations. The individual computers in such a system could communicate quantum information using Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) – clouds of ultra-cold atoms that all exist in exactly the same quantum state. The approach could address the decoherence problem by reducing the number of bits necessary for a single computer.

A team of physicists at the Georgia Institute of Technology has examined how this Bose-Einstein communication might work. The researchers determined the amount of time needed for quantum information to propagate across their BEC, essentially establishing the top speed at which such quantum computers could communicate.

Arxiv - Antiferromagnetic Spatial Ordering in a Quenched One-dimensional Spinor Gas

EIA forecasts over 8 million barrels per day of US crude oil production by Dec, 2014

Crude oil production increased by 790,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) between 2011 and 2012, the largest increase in annual output since the beginning ofU.S. commercial crude oil production in 1859. The U.S.Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects U.S. crude oil production to continue rising over the next two years represented in the Short‐Term Energy Outlook (STEO).

U.S. crude oil output is forecast to rise 815,000 bbl/d this year to 7.25 million barrels per day, according to the February 2013 STEO. U.S. daily oil production is expected to rise by another 570,000 bbl/d in 2014 to 7.82 million barrels per day,the highest annual average level since 1988. Most of the U.S. production growth over the next two years will come from drilling in tight rock formations located in North Dakota and Texas.

The latest weekly US crude oil production is 7.18 million barrels per day.

The Western Gulf Basin (Eagle Ford in Texas) and the Permian Basin (in Texas) have mroe total production and production growth than the Williston Basin (North Dakota).

Eric Drexler's New Book Radical Abundance has Big Ideas like Engines of Creation

I have received an advanced copy of Eric Drexler's Radical Abundance. The book will be released on May 7, 2013 but can be pre-ordered now. Eric Drexler wrote Engines of Creation - the coming age of nanotechnology (in 1986) and in 2007, he wrote an online e-book Engines of Creation 2.0.

Eric also wrote Nanosystems.

Radical Abundance is in the style of Engines of Creation

Eric Drexler is the intellectual father of the vision of molecular manufacturing - molecular nanotechnology.

Eric identifies areas where molecular manufacturing or similarly powerful changes in manufacturing technology could have massive leverage.

* if all agriculture was inside greenhouses then agricultural produtivity would increase by ten times
* telecommunication costs can be reduced by 1000 times
* radical abundance can also radically reduce environmental impact

Stem cells for supercharged immune systems to beat all cancers could clear the way for stem cells therapies against other diseases and for longevity

Fightaging reports how the world of cancer treatments is changing profoundly, gearing up for a new generation of therapies that will displace chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Reprogramming immune cells or introducing targeted viruses and nanoparticles to seek out and kill cancer cells with few side-effects will be the standard operating procedure twenty years from now - and probably available outside the US in a decade.

In early trials and the laboratory, these technologies are already showing impressive results.

A team transplanted human tumors into the feet of mice, where tumors can be easily monitored. When they treated the rodents with anti-CD47, the tumors shrank and did not spread to the rest of the body. In mice given human bladder cancer tumors, for example, 10 of 10 untreated mice had cancer that spread to their lymph nodes. Only one of 10 mice treated with anti-CD47 had a lymph node with signs of cancer. Moreover, the implanted tumor often got smaller after treatment—colon cancers transplanted into the mice shrank to less than one-third of their original size, on average. And in five mice with breast cancer tumors, anti-CD47 eliminated all signs of the cancer cells, and the animals remained cancer-free 4 months after the treatment stopped.

We showed that even after the tumor has taken hold, the antibody can either cure the tumor or slow its growth and prevent metastasis," says Weissman.

Although macrophages also attacked blood cells expressing CD47 when mice were given the antibody, the researchers found that the decrease in blood cells was short-lived; the animals turned up production of new blood cells to replace those they lost from the treatment

Germany's Economy at Risk from Energy Plan - German ocean wind projects delayed, some wind companies wrecked, renewable surcharges doubled in three years

Nordseewerke, which produces Statue of Liberty-sized foundations for ocean wind turbines, ramped up its manufacturing capacity and head count in 2011 after Merkel declared that Germany would begin a massive project to install 25,000 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030. More than two years later, Germany wind farms have been slow to appear, stymied by the difficulty of planting towers in deep ocean waters, an outmoded electrical grid and investors who are losing faith in the project. The delays hammered 110-year-old Emden-based Nordseewerke, which filed for bankruptcy before DSD Steel Group GmbH bought it in February, retaining only a third of its 750 employees.

In December, at a summit for her Christian Democratic Union in Hanover, she said that the 550 billion euro ($717 billion) effort is the most ambitious, complex and difficult project in Germany’s future.
Merkel’s Subsidies.

“If Germany succeeds, it could be a role model for economies all over the world,” says Claudia Kemfert, who heads the energy unit at the DIW economic institute, a research group, in Berlin. “If it fails, it will be a disaster for Germany’s politicians, society and economy.”

Merkel’s subsidies to renewable-energy producers are fueling runaway electricity costs and posing a threat to the stagnant German economy. Consumers pay for the subsidies through a surcharge on their bills. The fee had surged 47 percent on Jan. 1 from a year earlier. In three years, it had more than doubled.

The Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, said in December that it expects the economy to expand by as little as 0.4 percent in 2013 as the three-year sovereign-debt crisis continues to exact a toll on exports. German industry has been hit hard by power prices, which in 2012 were about 40 percent higher than in France and the Netherlands, according to a February report by the Cologne-based IW economic institute, a research organization.

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