July 13, 2013

For doomers the answer is always to kill people or prevent people from being born

Oxford University computational scientist Steven Emmott (and author of the book Ten Billion) thinks we are all doomed and tries to confuse others with weird metrics that are not in context.

Steve talks about water usage.
He does not talk about getting twice as efficient with water to get all of the agriculture and industrial and home uses we need.
He talks about killing or restricting the population in half.
Doomers do not go to water saving solutions they go to killing people.

Like the Far Side book of horse medicine where the answer is always shoot the horse. For doomers the answer is always to kill people

Yet even shooting people would not work. There is the examples of world war one and world war two where tens of millions were shot and killed and yet world population still went up.

Doomers talk about millions starving in Africa and yet Africa's populations goes up.

The doomer preferred solution of getting rid of people does not work for the purpose that they want. Even their doomsday fantasy of struggling humans killing each other and keeping population low does not work.

Nextbigfuture has previously done a detailed analysis of why Limits to Growth is wrong and how these spreadsheets of doom are wrong.

Hidden Water

It takes around 3,000 liters of water to produce a burger. In 2012 around five billion burgers were consumed in the UK alone. That's 15 trillion liters of water – on burgers. Just in the UK. Something like 14 billion burgers were consumed in the United States in 2012. That's around 42 trillion liters of water.

So that seems like a lot. How much water do we have ? The US Geological survey explains

1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers (km3). Each cubic kilometer is a trillion liters of water.

The Earth's liquid fresh water in groundwater, swamp water, rivers, and lakes. The volume is 10,633,450 km3.
68% of that water is ice.

How is the water used ?

The world uses freshwater:
• about 70 percent for irrigation
• about 20 percent for industry
• about 10 percent for domestic use

July 12, 2013

ATLAS the DARPA humanoid robot

ATLAS is one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever built, but is essentially a physical shell for the software brains and nerves that the teams will continue to develop and refine. That software, and the actions of a human operator through a control unit, will guide the suite of sensors, actuators, joints and limbs that make up the robot. The six-foot-two, 330-pound ATLAS is capable of a range of natural movements and is equipped with:

On-board real-time control computer;
Hydraulic pump and thermal management;
Two arms, two legs, a torso and a head;
28 hydraulically actuated joints;
Carnegie Robotics sensor head with LIDAR and stereo sensors; and
Two sets of hands, one provided by iRobot and one by Sandia National Labs.

The End is Near - Another Spreadsheet says we are doomed - Author suggests preparing for Lord of the Flies

In the grand tradition of Malthus, Limits to Growth, Chicken Little and the Boy who cried wolf we have another spreadsheet and book that says we and the Earth are doomed.

Oxford Computer Science Professor Steven Emmott published a book Ten Billion and an article about it in The Guardian.

First are Steven's claims of doom. It end where he basically suggests we give our kids guns to prepare for the chaos of collapse. I then rebutt the doomer garbage in and only garbage out model.

Steven Emmott says we are Doomed from not enough food, not enough water, temperature rise

We currently have no known means of being able to feed 10 billion of us at our current rate of consumption and with our current agricultural system. Indeed, simply to feed ourselves in the next 40 years, we will need to produce more food than the entire agricultural output of the past 10,000 years combined. [NBF - a silly metric of 10,000 years - there was almost no agriculture and a tiny population for 9000 years. It would be good to increase food by 60% so 25% more people can eat 25% more. We can do it.] Yet food productivity is set to decline, possibly very sharply, over the coming decades due to: climate change; soil degradation and desertification

We are going to have to triple – at least – energy production by the end of this century to meet expected demand. To meet that demand, we will need to build, roughly speaking, something like: 1,800 of the world's largest dams, or 23,000 nuclear power stations, 14m wind turbines, 36bn solar panels, or just keep going with predominantly oil, coal and gas – and build the 36,000 new power stations that means we will need.

It is now very likely that we are looking at a future global average rise of 4C – and we can't rule out a rise of 6C. This will be absolutely catastrophic. It will lead to runaway climate change, capable of tipping the planet into an entirely different state, rapidly. Earth will become a hellhole

July 11, 2013

Spinal Cord injury therapies and medical situation in China

China will probably have 1 million people with spinal cord injury in 2020 (80,000 per year). One third of the spinal cord injury people in the world. The US has about 10,000 spinal cord injury patients per year.

Wise Young, MD, PhD Professor and Chair, Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience, Rutgers University Director, W.M. Keck Center for Collaborative Neuroscience Presents a talk at the March 2008 Spinal Cord Workshop: "Spinal Cord Injury: What are the barriers to cure?"

Yes this article has two long videos, but they are very interesting. Telling about procedures that are restoring mobility to full spinal cord injuries and to get past the myths about the state of medicine in China.

Chinese surgeons typically have ten times the experience of american surgeons.
Chinese orthopedic surgeons can handle bone surgery and inject stem cells.
Spinal cord procedures with stem cells need to have bone surgeons with stem cell and nerve surgery all in one or at least a very tight working teams.
The US has a strict split between bone versus neural surgeons.
China has a lot of very well funded hospitals with the latest equipment (bought with the trade surplus.)
China has shifted from government funded medicine to cash only to insurance with 50% copay.
China in 2004 clamped down on clinical trials and has the most strict regulations on it now.
They executed some doctors who did not follow the rules. Now doctors are very careful and precisely follow the rules.

Clinical trials and FDA approval problems - Why do 92% of spinal cord treatments fail clinical trials or fail to get FDA approval ?

There is a high failure rate and high cost for clinical trials and FDA approvals.
Here is a video that goes through the problem.

80% cannot recruit enough patients for clinical trials.
50% do not have a problem with the drug, but need to redesign the trial (change the dosage or the procedure) and do not have the money to redesign and go through the process again.

Monkey head transplant video and spinal repair in dogs and spinal repair in humans

We recently covered a new proposal for the first head transplant in humans. They would use a minimally traumatic cut of the spinal cord using an ultra-sharp blade (very different from what occurs in the setting of clinical spinal cord injury, where gross, extensive damage and scarring is observed) followed within minutes by chemofusion (GEMINI). The surgery is performed under conditions of deep hypothermia for maximal protection of the neural tissue. Moreover, and equally important, the motoneuronal pools contained in the cord grey matter remain largely untouched and can be engaged by spinal cord stimulation, a technique that has recently shown itself capable of restoring at least some motor control in spinal injured subjects.

Here we look at video of the monkey head transplant (arteries and veins were connected but not the spinal cord).

Dr. Robert White (Case Western University) removed a monkey head and transplanted it onto another monkey body in 1970. This scene is from the documentary "Stalin's Ape Man".

Scientists have been aware for over a decade that olfactory ensheathing cells (OEC) might be useful in treating the damaged spinal cord because of their unique properties. The cells have the ability to support nerve fibre growth that maintains a pathway between the nose and the brain.

The researchers established that the new nerve connections accounting for this recovery were occurring over short distances within the spinal cord and not over the longer distances required to connect the brain with the spinal cord.

In a unique collaboration between the University's Veterinary School and MRC's Regenerative Medicine Centre, scientists used a unique type of cell to regenerate the damaged part of the dogs' spines. The researchers are cautiously optimistic that the work could in humans.

We’re confident that the technique might be able to restore at least a small amount of movement in human patients with spinal cord injuries but that’s a long way from saying they might be able to regain all lost function. It’s more likely that this procedure might one day be used as part of a combination of treatments, alongside drug and physical therapies.

202 Story Broad Group Sky City to Start Construction August, 2013 and 1000 meter Jeddah Tower to start Dec, 2013

China 202 story Sky City will soar to 838 metres to dominate the skyline in Changsha, China, by March 2014. Work will start at the end of August 2013 as reported by the Pars Herald.

China Broad Group will need four months to prefabricate the sections – and three months more to bolt them together on site.

The tower is designed to stand through an earthquake registering nine on the Richter scale.

Saudi Arabia plans a new 1,000 meter £1 billion [US$1.5 billion] super tower in the capital of Jeddah are said to be ‘progressing well”. Saudi Arabia says ground works will start in December 2013 and are set to last 10 months. The tower is scheduled to open in 2018.

China's Broad Group CEO has talked about an over 2000 meter tall 636 story tower that would follow as a Super Sky City.

Quantum Canada

Vern Brownell had spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs (GS) as the New York bank’s chief technology officer. He had grown cynical from startups pitching for a sliver of the billion dollars a year Goldman spends on technology.

D-Wave Systems is a Canadian startup in the nascent field of quantum computing.

“Once I came out here and saw what they were doing, I said ‘I’ve got to do this,’” Brownell said in a recent telephone interview. “I had never seen anything that had the potential to disrupt the computing industry the way this had.”

Four years later, Brownell is D-Wave’s chief executive officer, the firm has secured more than C$100 million ($95 million) in investment from backers including Goldman (GS) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN). founder Jeff Bezos and counts Lockheed Martin Co. (LMT), and a lab run by Google Inc (GOOG). and NASA as its customers.

Along with BlackBerry smartphone inventor Mike Lazaridis, who has poured nearly half a billion dollars into quantum science in Waterloo, Ontario, D-Wave is creating a second act for a Canadian technology sector known more recently for Nortel Networks Corp (NRTLQ).’s bankruptcy and BlackBerry’s struggles.

Race for Cholesterol drugs that mimic mutation. Clinical trials show they cure high cholesterol and could drastically reduce heart disease deaths

A 32 year old woman has astoundingly low cholesterol. Her low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, the form that promotes heart disease, was 14, a level unheard-of in healthy adults, whose normal level is over 100.

The discovery of the mutation and of the two women with their dazzlingly low LDL levels has set off one of the greatest medical chases ever. It is a fevered race among three pharmaceutical companies, Amgen, Pfizer and Sanofi, to test and win approval for a drug that mimics the effects of the mutation, drives LDL levels to new lows and prevents heart attacks. All three companies have drugs in clinical trials and report that their results, so far, are exciting.

Heart disease remains the leading killer of Americans, causing nearly 600,000 deaths a year.

People with stubbornly high cholesterol levels who are taking the drugs in preliminary studies have seen their LDL levels plunging from levels well over 100 to 50, 40, or even lower. Like insulin for diabetes, the drugs are injected, but they are taken once or twice a month.

Dr. Barry Gumbiner, who is directing Pfizer’s studies, said the company had to decide whether to set a floor for patients’ LDL levels. Pfizer is interrupting treatment when LDL levels reach 25 or lower. The people seemed fine, but the company got nervous.

US All liquids oil production at 11.99 million barrels per day and crude oil at 7.4 million bpd

Here is the EIA weekly oil statistics.

US all liquids production is up about 700,000 bpd from December 2012.
US Crude oil production is up 1.4 million bpd from the same time last year.

World will be producing about 100 million to 110 million light cars and trucks by 2018-2020

IHS has an Automotive Industry Outlook to 2020

Over 30 million will be sold in China.

July 10, 2013

Nanostructured quartz glass could lead to unlimited lifetime data storage

Using nanostructured glass, scientists at the University of Southampton have, for the first time, experimentally demonstrated the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional digital data by femtosecond laser writing. The storage allows unprecedented parameters including 360 TB/disc data capacity, thermal stability up to 1000°C and practically unlimited lifetime.

Coined as the ‘Superman’ memory crystal’, as the glass memory has been compared to the “memory crystals” used in the Superman films, the data is recorded via self-assembled nanostructures created in fused quartz, which is able to store vast quantities of data for over a million years. The information encoding is realised in five dimensions: the size and orientation in addition to the three dimensional position of these nanostructures.

5D Data Storage by Ultrafast Laser Nanostructuring in Glass

They have experimentally demonstrated the recording and read-out processes of 5D optical data by femtosecond laser writing. The data recording was significantly simplified by replacing the conventional control of the writing beam energy and polarization with a spatial light modulator and a specially designed laser imprinted half-wave plate matrix. This demonstration is a crucial step towards commercialization of ultrafast laser based optical data storage

Russian $1.3 billion Proton rocket explosion caused by critical sensor being installed upside down

A Proton-M rocket carrying three satellites for the GLONASS navigation constellation (Russia's GPS system) launched on July 2, 2013. The rocket went sideways and then crashed.

Russian Space Web - By July 9, investigators sifting through the wreckage of the doomed rocket found that the critical angular velocity sensors, DUS, were installed upside down. Each of those sensors had an arrow that was suppose to point toward the top of the vehicle, however multiple sensors on the failed rocket were pointing downward instead. As a result, the flight control system was receiving wrong information about the position of the rocket and tried to "correct" it, causing the vehicle to swing wildly and, ultimately, crash. The paper trail led to a young technician responsible for the wrong assembly of the hardware, but also raised serious issues of quality control at the Proton's manufacturing plant, at the rocket's testing facility and at the assembly building in Baikonur. It appeared that no visual control of the faulty installation had been conducted, while electrical checks had not detected the problem since all circuits had been working correctly.

A similar problem caused a rocket failure from the same manufacturing plant many years ago. Although the sensor has a this way up marking on it. Clearly they needed to design with three screws position so that they would only install the correct way. The kind of design setup that goes into Ikea furniture.

July 09, 2013

China taking some much needed stronger steps against air pollution but needs to go even further

China has a large air pollution problem that would get a lot worse without strong measures.

Five big proposals from the Deutsch Bank report on China's air pollutiojn , summarized:
1) Reduce the annual growth in coal from its current rate of 4 percent to 2 percent. Coal use should peak by 2017. (Current projections have coal use peaking in the 2030s.)
2) Adopt scrubbers and other technologies that reduce conventional pollutants from coal-fired power plants 70 percent in the next 18 years. Similar technologies and better fuel efficiency can reduce emissions from vehicles by 80 percent over that time frame.
3) Increase the growth rate for lower-carbon energy technologies, from gas and nuclear to wind and hydro and solar power by 4 percentage points.
4) Slow the number of cars on the road — the 2030 target should be 250 million passenger cars, not the current 400 million.
5) More rails and subways. A lot more, in fact.

There’s a lot more detail in the report, but the analysts estimate that if China does all this, it can reduce maximum annual average levels of PM2.5 down to about 35 micrograms per cubic meter by 2030

Some just announced action to try to reduce air pollution or at strongly slow its growth

China has announced ten “tough measures” to curb China's pollution:

1. Reduce pollutant emissions through renovation of key industries. Accelerate the clean transformation of urban dust and fuel quality.
2. Strictly control high energy consumption of high-pollution and other key industries’ production capacity.
3. Improve public transport and clean energy production, reducing atmospheric pollutants emission intensity by 30% or more by 2017.
4. Develop natural gas, coal methane and other clean energy supplies.
5. Strengthen energy-saving and environmental indicator constraints on construction, land, power and water supply.

The Global Bottom 10%

There are between 824 million and 1.1 billion people living in extreme poverty now (less than $1.25 per day in 2005 PPP GDP which is $1 per day in 1996 PPP GDP).

About 80% of the extremely poor are in China, India and Sub-Saharan Africa. China has mostly risen out of poverty. India has most of its poor just below the $1.25 per day cutoff and most of them should escape poverty over the next ten years. Africa has half of its extremely poor living on less than 0.70 dollars per day. Africa has about half of the extremely poor now.

If trends were to continue 300 million people in Africa will stay in extreme poverty.

Agriculture key to breaking extreme poverty

Growing academic evidence highlights agriculture’s unique role in helping to reduce extreme poverty. For example, an important 2011 paper by economists Luc Christiaensen, Lionel Demery and Jesper Kuhl shows that agriculture is roughly three times more effective at reducing extreme poverty than non-agricultural sectors.

Rise of the global middle class and extreme poverty reduction

The rise of a global middle class with an average of $12,000 GDP per capita and halving of world extreme poverty are some of the biggest changes that effect the most people. I have projected how that seems likely to continue to a per capita income of about $20,000 GDP PPP per capita in ten years and $30,000 GDP PPP per capita in twenty years.

This shift effects world energy usage and resource utilization and public health (richer people and countries can afford cleaner water and more food.)

There is the wikipedia tables of past and future GDP by countries on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis. These are mostly statistics and projections from the IMF. There is some dispute and inaccuracy related to GDP for a country and PPP cost comparisons. In particular China's 2005 international comparison of prices is probably causing an underestimation of China's PPP GDP by about 40% because they assume pricing for China's largest cities applies to rural areas and small cities. However, even taking those things into account the PPP GDP is probably accurate for the world to within 20%.

I have combined this with world population figures and projections.

I also added in how many times higher the US per capita GDP is above the world average GDP PPP per capita.
I also added in how many times higher the world average GDP per capita PPP is above the world extreme poverty line ($1 per day in 1996 and $1.25 per day in 2005 and then inflation adjusted assumption going forward)

World Poverty was halved from 40% to 20% from 1993 to 2010 and could halve again by 2020

Mobileeye moves to have hands free driving system before 2016

1. Earlier this month, Mobileye, the Israeli and Dutch maker of advanced driver assistance technologies, claimed that self-driving cars “could be on the road by 2016.” Rather than Google cars’ array of radar, cameras, sensors and laser-based range finders, Mobileye wants to offer autonomous driving capability at a more affordable price point by using mainstream cameras that cost only a few hundred dollars.

Mobileye announced today that it is selling $400 million in equity to “five unaffiliated” financial investors, which include “some of the largest U.S.-based global institutional asset managers and a leading Chinese government-affiliated financial investor,” according to a statement released this morning. The transaction, which values the company at $1.5 billion (pre-money) and was overseen by Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, is expected to close in August.

The newer version of Mobileye’s system that arrives this summer aims to help steer the car in stop-start situations, though drivers are still required to keep their hands on the wheel. Coming up next, and expected to be street-ready by 2013, is a more advanced system that will allow for hands-free driving.

Mobileeye currently has artificial vision and several car driving assistance technologies.

DWave Systems CTO talks about quantum computing solving problems beyond conventional computing

Geordie Rose is the CTO and Founder of D-Wave Computing, a Canadian company that is currently selling a 512 qubit superconducting quantum annealing system. They plan to have a 2048 qubit system within about two years. The 2048 qubit system could be 500,000 times faster for certain optimization problems. Google and Lockheed have already purchased systems. The quantum annealing systems is focused on optimization problems useful for certain artificial intelligence and machine learning problems.

- automated machine learning
- automatic classification of images

In this talk, he describes the way quantum mechanics will be able to solve massive problems that conventional computers cannot even begin to answer.

Carnival of Space 309

The Carnival of Space 309 is up at Tranquality Base

A Gallery Of Cosmic Fireworks at the Chandra Space Telescope Blog

Kepler's supernova remnant, seen with Chandra. Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/NCSU/M.Burkey et al; Optical: DSS

The Meridiani Journal - More of those weird ‘bubbles’ seen by Curiosity rover

Cropped Mastcam image of “bubble” feature from sol 309. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

July 08, 2013

Tech Review looks for the next Silicon Valley - Technology winners make more winners

1. In technology, those winners have a way of producing more winners. The process reaches critical mass in the web of intertwined companies, resources, advantages, ideas, talent, opportunity, and serendipity that defines a technology cluster.

It’s clear that what’s essential is proximity to human talent and new ideas. Jean-François Formela, a venture capitalist at Atlas Venture who invests in early-stage biotechnology startups, says he visits Boston-area academic labs several times a week, trying to find the next invention that he can license and turn into a company. And because there are so many PhDs and MDs in the area, he can start a company and build a team remarkably fast. “People don’t even have to change buildings,” he says. “They just switch floors.”

Superconductor made from solvent

A study led by Washington State University researchers has turned a fairly common nonmetallic solvent into a superconductor capable of transmitting electrical current with none of the resistance seen in conventional conductors.

Three years ago, Yoo used super-high pressures similar to those found deep in the Earth to turn a white crystal into a "super battery,” or what he called "the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy.”

This time, Yoo saw how carbon disulfide subjected to high pressure and cold started to act like a metal, taking on properties like magnetism, high-energy density and super-hardness as its molecules reassembled in three-dimensional structures like those found in diamonds.

Typically, nonmetallic molecules are too far apart from each other - three times farther apart than metal molecules - for electrical energy to move across them. But Yoo and his colleagues, including researchers at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, compressed the compound in the small space of a diamond anvil cell to 50,000 atmospheres - a pressure equivalent to that found 600 miles into the Earth. They also chilled the compound to 6.5 degrees Kelvin, or nearly -447 F.

PNAS - Superconductivity in highly disordered dense carbon disulfide

Air Pollution in Northern China shortens the life expectancy of over 500 million people by 5.5 years

Air pollution is shortening the lives of people in northern China by about 5.5 years compared to those living in the south of China, a disastrous legacy of a policy that provided free coal for heating in the north, an international study shows.

Environmental problems are a source of rising social discontent in China; last month Beijing promised new measures to crack down on air pollution, partly by hastening a shift to renewable energy from fossil fuels

A Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS] paper’s findings suggest that an arbitrary Chinese policy that greatly increases total suspended particulates (TSPs) air pollution is causing the 500 million residents of Northern China to lose more than 2.5 billion life years of life expectancy. The quasi-experimental empirical approach is based on China’s Huai River policy, which provided free winter heating via the provision of coal for boilers in cities north of the Huai River but denied heat to the south. Using a regression discontinuity design based on distance from the Huai River, we find that ambient concentrations of TSPs are about 184 μg/m3 [95% confidence interval (CI): 61, 307] or 55% higher in the north. Further, the results indicate that life expectancies are about 5.5 years (95% CI: 0.8, 10.2) lower in the north owing to an increased incidence of cardiorespiratory mortality. More generally, the analysis suggests that long-term exposure to an additional 100 μg/m3 of TSPs is associated with a reduction in life expectancy at birth of about 3.0 years (95% CI: 0.4, 5.6).

Europe has an impact of about 8 months reduction in life expectancy from European air pollution.

PNAS - Evidence on the impact of sustained exposure to air pollution on life expectancy from China’s Huai River policy

Invitro Fertilization now 30 times cheaper to $250 instead of $7500

The cost of IVF can be cut dramatically from thousands of pounds to around £170 (US$255) to start a "new era" in IVF, fertility doctors from Belgium claim [instead of £5000 or $7500].

Twelve children have been born through the technique, which replaces expensive medical equipment with "kitchen cupboard" ingredients.

Countries Planning to Adopt Nuclear Energy

An IAEA presentation from Mar 2013 discusses the countries that have solid plans to adopt nuclear energy. Most of the new nuclear reactors will be built in countries that already have nuclear power. Those countries are primarily China, India, Russia, and South Korea. Below are the countries with new nuclear energy plans and they are mainly Asian and middle eastern countries.

Prospects and Issues for SMRs Deployment

Here is an IAEA presentation from Mar 2013 on the status of global small modular nuclear reactor projects.

Operational Issues for SMRs
– Overcoming Constraints:
• Licensability of non-LWR technologies in newcomer countries
• Control room staffing and human factors
• Connection to the grid
• Site specific exclusion zones and EPZs

Most of the new nuclear reactors are being built by China, India, Russia and South Korea. They are each developing their own small modular nuclear reactors. They will clearly mainly be buying their own nuclear reactor designs. It is only the middle eastern and other countries that do not have their own designs who will be buying the reactors created by other countries.

Previously Nextbigfuture had looked at the economics of the various global small modular nuclear reactors that are under development

July 07, 2013

Four to 19 seater Hybrid Aircraft will enter commercial market by 2020 and 100 passenger hybrids using half of the fuel will follow

“Within this decade, we will certainly see hybrid electric aircraft entering the market,” says Frank Anton, who heads the hybrid aircraft efforts at Siemens. Four-seat hybrid aircraft are likely within that time frame, he says, but even 19 seaters are possible before the decade is out. Anton predicts that eventually we will see 100-passenger hybrid aircraft that use half as much fuel as today’s airplanes.

Boeing is taking this a step further with a concept for hybrid airplanes the size of 737s, which can seat more than 150 passengers, although it’s unlikely these will come into service before 2030. EADS, the parent company of Airbus, has also developed a conceptual design for passenger airplanes that fly exclusively on electricity, although the range of these aircraft would be limited.

Higher power density batteries, lighter electronics, superconductors that will enable smaller and more powerful engines, lighter and stronger materials will all help enable larger and more efficient hybrid and electric aircraft.

Flying hybrid: This two-seater electric-gas airplane may be the first of many to take to the skies. It has a range of 900 kilometers (600 miles)

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 164 - India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Argentina and Middle East Push ahead with nuclear energy construction

1. Canadian Energy Issues - Nuclear shows up for Ontario electricity fight: Power Workers versus the Gas Association”

The undeclared war that has been quietly raging since the 1990s in Ontario’s electricity sector flared into the open last week, with a new ad from the biggest union. Mincing no words, the Power Workers’ Union put its case starkly: this is nuclear versus natural gas, and Ontario’s electricity future is at stake. According to Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues, this statement could not be more accurate.

Next generation Hybrid Honda Fit will get 84.7 mpg US and mpg equivalent ratings of electric and plug in cars

The hybrid version of Honda’s next-generation Fit, powered by a newly developed engine and electric motor, will be capable of delivering fuel economy of about 36 km/l of gasoline (84.7 mpg US, or 2.8 l/100 km) in tests based on the JC08. The current version of the Fit offers 26.4 km/l (62.1 mpg US, 3.8 l/100 km). [reported by Greencarcongress]

This would edge past Toyota Motor’s Aqua subcompact. The Aqua posts JC08 fuel economy of 35.4 km/l (83.3 mpg US), while the Prius liftback offers 32.6 km/l (76.7 mpg US).

Next-generation Fits, including conventional gasoline-powered models, will be released first in Japan in September, then make their debuts in the US, Europe and elsewhere.

The Toyota subcompact aqua had sales of over 250,000 in Japan in 2011 and 2012.

I had a 2006 prediction that 80-200mpg cars would be mainstream, batteries, ultracapacitors 5-10 times better, 2008-2012

Several plugin hybrids and all electric cars have EPA fuel economy of over 100 mpge.

Quantum Enigma Machine Proposed by Seth Lloyd for Secure Cryptography

Enigma machines are devices that perform cryptography using pseudo-random numbers. The original enigma machine code was broken by detecting hidden patterns in these pseudo-random numbers. This paper proposes a model for a quantum optical enigma machine and shows that the phenomenon of quantum data locking makes such quantum enigma machines provably secure even in the presence of noise and loss. [Arxiv - Quantum enigma machines]

The enigma machine used for cryptography during the second world war was a device which, given a short keyword, produced a pseudorandom output which could be decoded by a second machine using the same keyword. The original enigma machine consisted of a series of rotors through which electrical current could pass in a way that depended on the relative orientation of the rotors. The path taken by the current connected an input symbol to an output system. After each key press the rotors went through a stepping motion that changed the functional relationship between input and output for the next key press. A sender and receiver who prepared their machines using the same initial setting, determined by the keyword, could then exchange encrypted messages. While the enigma machine did a pretty good job of scrambling the input, the outputs deviated sufficiently from pseudorandom sequences that the enigma code could be broken. In general, classical codes based on pseudo-random numbers are secure only if P <> NP proving the security of such codes is accordingly difficult. This paper proposes a quantum optical version of the enigma machine and shows that it is secure in principle, in the sense that amount of information that Eve can access about the message can be made arbitrarily small, even in the presence of arbitrary amounts of loss.

The security of quantum enigma machines relies on the phenomenon of quantum data locking.

200 micron thick 3d thermal cloak

The first experimental realization of a three-dimensional thermal cloak shielding an air bubble in a bulk metal without disturbing external thermal flux has been made. The cloak is made of a thin layer of homogeneous and isotropic material with simple mechanical manufacturing. The cloak’s thickness is 200 μm while the cloaked air bubble has a diameter of 1 cm, achieving the ratio between dimensions of the cloak and the cloaked object 2 orders smaller than previous thermal cloaks which were mainly realized at a two-dimensional plane. This work can find applications in novel thermal devices in the three-dimensional physical space. [Arxiv - Experimental demonstration of an ultra-thin three-dimensional thermal cloak]

Material candidates to realize a 3D thermal cloak with the background material of stainless steel. The black curve shows relative thermal conductivity required to implement a 3D thermal cloak with different thickness ratio of the cloak. The inset figure illustrates the cross section of the cloak. Red/ blue region denotes high/ low temperature, and dashed arrows represent the heat flux

Anki will bring artificial intelligence and robotics into people's everyday lives

Anki is a new startup that aims to bring artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics into people’s everyday lives.

They gave a first sneak peek of Anki Drive at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference. At first glance, it’s a racing game that pits real cars against players and each other – but after playing for a few minutes, you’ll see what makes Anki Drive special: They are making the first video games in the real world, and their team has worked tirelessly on the robotics and AI challenges that this presents. Each car is equipped with sensors and intelligent software to make thousands of decisions every second. They use mobile devices not as remote controls, but as drivers for an immersive real-world experience. And they took great care to make sure that despite everything under the hood, the final experience is intuitive and entertaining.

Anki Drive is the first steps of the future of robotics and artificial intelligence being realized. It is a transformative entertainment experience, and it has countless possibilities in the future.

Anki Drive will be available this Fall exclusively on iOS.

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