August 17, 2013

Mid-range Gen 3 Car of 2016 being as self driving as the technology will allow is just part of Telsa Future domination

Musk reiterated Tesla’s plans to launch higher volume models based on a third-generation platform. The automaker has previously mentioned two third-generation models, a small sedan and crossover, labeled by Musk as “Gen 3” models.

Speaking specifically about the Gen 3 sedan, Musk described it as costing “about half the price of the Model S” and featuring a “family resemblance” to other Tesla models (Model S pricing currently starts at $62,400). Finally, he said the Gen 3 sedan would “arrive at the end of 2016.”

Being based on Tesla’s third-generation platform design, the Gen 3 sedan will also pack some interesting new technologies. Musk hinted that it may feature “some autopilot or self-driving elements” though stressed that these may not be available in time for the launch. The Tesla boss has previously said that he views the concept of an auto-pilot for cars as something that is important to the evolution of automobiles.

The Model X will arrive in late 2014 and may be followed by additional variants based on the same second-generation platform.

Elon Musk could enable the domination of the electric car and be instrumental in the popularization of the self driving car.

Probably After Tesla Motors is the Worlds Biggest Car Company, Elon Musk will make an electric supersonic vertical takeoff and landing jet

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors and Space Exploration Technologies, said today he may someday work to develop a supersonic, all-electric jet that could take off and land vertically. This would be more cost effective than Hyperloop at distances greater than 1000 miles.

Musk said he currently has his hands full with Tesla and SpaceX, and is not looking to start another company "anytime soon." If he does, it would be to create the supersonic aircraft, which he described as "sort of the ultimate form of transport."

I would take that to mean sometime after Tesla is at least the number three car company in the world in market capitalization (perhaps over $60 billion or when it is number one in the world). It would also be after Spacex has the Spacex Heavy flying and all stages of a rocket are reusable.

Those could happen sometime in the 2018 to 2025 timeframe. Waiting would also allow battery, fuel cell, superconductor and materials technology to improve.

930,000 square feet of the Skycity will be the largest vertical farm in the world

About 12% of the 1.05 million square meters (11.3 million square feet) of the 202 story skycity will be vertical organic farm, parks and open air gardens. It will be 930,000 square feet (86,400 square meters or over 21 acres). The entire Skycity project is to cost about $1.5 billion (9 billion yuan). There will also be 26,880 square meters of indoor park and 8000 meters of open air gardens.

Indoor farming can produce crops year-round. All-season farming multiplies the productivity of the farmed surface by a factor of 4 to 6 depending on the crop. With some crops, such as strawberries, the factor may be as high as 30.

The crops would be sold in the same infrastructures in which they are grown, they will not need to be transported between production and sale, resulting in less spoilage, infestation, and energy required than conventional farming encounters. Research has shown that 30% of harvested crops are wasted due to spoilage and infestation, though this number is much lower in developed nations.

The controlled growing environment reduces the need for pesticides, namely herbicides and fungicides. Advocates claim that producing organic crops in vertical farms is practical and the most likely production

The Eden project in the UK cost 140 million pounds ($210 million), which included about 40 acres beyond the 2.4 hectares of domed greenhouse. The Eden project is a greenhouse and not a vertical farm.

Technology Disruptors like Spacex, Tesla Motors, Broad Group fight the courts and politically connected

IF Spacex fully succeeds then launch costs to orbit could drop to about $10 per pound from $4000-20000 per pound (cost of competing launch systems). This could open up space to colonization and industry and enable the economy of civilization to expand by trillions of dollars in decades and enable large scale expansion into the solar system much the way nationwide highway and rail allowed the US to fill out from coast to coast. Note - the justification for trillions of dollars in economic activity enabled with vastly lowered costs to space is below. There is already $250 billion per year in economic activity from the space industry.

IF Tesla Motor fully succeeds then the electric car could displace gasoline cars on a global basis and set the stage for mainstream electric airplanes and other vehicles. Tesla is battling US car dealers in court for the right to sell directly to consumers. Tesla Motors has not been previously been viewed as a serious threat to the other car companies. This perception will change and I predict established car companies will attack Tesla Motors with legal and regulatory means and with attacks in the media.

IF Broad Groups factory produced skyscrapers fully succeed the cost of building construction could drop two to ten times. This will changes cities and world urbanization and the $4 trillion world construction market. Broad Group did not receive any two year delays for any of the other 30 buildings they built over the last five years using factory mass production. It was when Broad Group went for the Skycity project (202 story skyscraper) that competitors and construction worker groups used politicians to slow or derail Broad Group. Broad Group has built the 50 story Beijing Horizon Hotel and over 30 other buildings using its factory mass production methods. Broad Group was surprised by the need for additional approvals for the SkyCity when they know those approvals were never needed for any prior skyscraper or building they have made.

Spacex fight for Government and Military launches and to displace expensive competitors

Spacex with a successful reusable rocket has the potential to completely disrupt all space access competitors except those who launch national strategic payloads (Russian, Chinese military for example.) Already Spacex has the lowest cost commercial launch capacity. The Spacex Heavy will launch next year and will be able to launch over 53 metric tons and some launch configurations and missions would have a cost of $84 million or $709 per pound.

As of March 2013, Falcon 9 v1.1 launch prices are $4,109 per kilogram ($1,864/lb) to low-Earth orbit when the launch vehicle is transporting its maximum cargo weight.

Elon Musk has stated that he can get launch costs below $500 per pound of delivered payload without reusability. If reusability is achieved then the costs would go down by about half with a reusable first stage and having all stages reusable would lower costs by ten to one hundred times. Attempts to have full stage launch recovery could occur by 2015. There would be an attempted wet soft landing of a stage next year and then an actual dry landing in 2015.

In June 2013, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) signed a certification agreement with the U.S. Air Force Tuesday that moves the company one step closer to competing for contracts to launch sensitive national security satellites. Those satellites are all launched now by United Launch Alliance rockets.

United Launch has been trying to use political and regulatory means to block competition with Spacex. They also try to get media stories to focus any concerns about Spacex safety and use its nontraditional approach as an argument against it.

Skycity is practical and different from past skyscrapers but unchanged politics caused relatively minor startup delays

Broad Group has a 15 page document that lays out the case for the SkyCity skyscraper This document describes why the 202 story Skycity is more practical than past skyscrapers and why it is economically different since it radically lower per square foot construction cost means it is good for multifunction usage and not just high end offices and high end apartments. The start of construction has been delayed 18 to 24 months versus when the company had hoped to start, has next to nothing to do with the technology or economics but with skyscraper politics and regulation. It was somewhat unexpected by the company since they have built over 30 other buildings using the same construction methods and one of those buildings are 50 stories tall (Beijing Horizon Hotel). There is also a 100 story skyscraper that Broad has authorized and should complete this year.

Skycity success would enable China to make improvements in health, lower construction dust (40% of particulate pollution), safety and economics for China's urbanization. Skycity could be a tool to reduce overall global urban sprawl in spite of increasing population.

It is still 3 months to assemble on site and 4 months to build the factory components and 6 months to build the foundation.

The CEO Zhang Yue makes his case at Treehugger against the Skycity and Broad Group haters.

Why does the foundation construction only need six months? It is thanks to the competence of China Construction 5th Engineering Division Corporation and the excellent geological conditions of the location. That is also one of the reasons why we choose such a remote location. The contract period with China Construction 5th Engineering Division Corporation is exactly six months. And the Corporation is not only the foundation constructor for the Sky City, but also the general contractor responsible for the installation. Its competency and qualifications are unquestionable.

* One 202 story SkyCity with affordable living, playgrounds, parks schools, offices and stores removes the need for 2000 cars
* energy saving construction saves energy and reduces CO2 by 120000 tons per year vs conventional skyscrapers
* Superior interior air quality has been proven in over 30 buildings built with the same methods
* Skycity will have over 800,000 square feet of vertical organic farms and other interior greenspace
This will be about 9 times larger than any other vertical farm that exists at this time

* They have a 9 billion yuan budget

August 16, 2013

Buffet buys half a billion in oilsand stock as Keystone delay no longer matters

Warren Buffet established a new position of 17,769,457 shares in Suncor (big canadian oilsand company) at a cost of $524,021,000 for an average price of $29.49.

Keystone-XL Pipeline: Delayed So Long It No Longer Matters?, other pipelines and a huge build out of rail infrastructure have resolved takeaway capacity constraints.

The spread in oilsand oil price to Brent oil has dropped to $3.91 per barrel from a peak of $27 per barrel.

China has started buying high speed rail equipment again and is taking $8.2 billion in bids

China has reopened tenders for high-speed trains worth an estimated $8.2 billion, lifting a suspension imposed after a crash that killed dozens of passengers in 2011 and signalling a new phase of construction in the country's vast railway network.

State-owned giant China Railway Investment Corp (CRIC) said it had opened tenders for 91 bullet trains with a speed of 250 kilometres (155 miles) per hour.

Husab, Haggan uranium mines

1. Husab mine (Namibia location owned by China Guangong Nuclear Power Company) construction is 25 percent complete and management is targeting to start pre-stripping 2014 second quarter.

The mine will have stockpiled one million tonnes run off mine by mid-2015, during which it expects to cold commission an agitated acid leach processing plant, Swakop Uranium spokesperson, Grant Marais, told The Southern Times.

Husab will ship first product in the last quarter of 2015 and gradually build up production to desired nameplate production of 15-million pounds (7500 tons) of uranium oxide in 2017, Marais said. “We are on track to start exporting our product in the last quarter of 2015.

Highest reported current performance for a superconductor wire or a film on a technical substrate

The ability to control nanoscale imperfections in superconducting wires results in materials with unparalleled and customized performance, according to a new study from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Applications for superconducting wires, which carry electricity without resistance when cooled to a critical temperature, include underground transmission cables, transformers and large-scale motors and generators. But these applications require wires to operate under different temperature and magnetic field regimes.

A team led by ORNL’s Amit Goyal demonstrated that superconducting wires can be tuned to match different operating conditions by introducing small amounts of non-superconducting material that influences how the overall material behaves. Manipulating these nanoscale columns -- also known as defects -- allows researchers to exert control over the forces that regulate the wires’ superconducting performance.
- See more at:

This figure shows the critical current, Ic, and engineering critical current density, JE, in a superconducting wire as a function of applied magnetic field orientation at 65 Kelvin and 3 Tesla. The top curve shows results from a newly published ORNL study. The other two curves are from previously reported record values. A minimum JE of 43.7 kiloamperes/cm2 (assuming a 50 micron thick stabilizer layer) and a minimum Ic of 455 Amperes/cm was obtained for all applied field orientations. This is the highest reported performance for a superconductor wire or a film on a technical substrate

Engineering nanocolumnar defect configurations for optimized vortex pinning in high temperature superconducting nanocomposite wires

Carbyne calculated to be 28 to 36% stronger than Graphene and twice as stiff

A new form of carbon, carbyne, is calculated to be twice as stiff as carbon nanotubes or graphene and about significantly stronger than graphene, carbon nanotubes and diamond.

Rice University researchers calculate that it takes around 10 nanoNewtons to break a single strand of carbyne.

Carbyne specific strength 6.0–7.5×10^7 N∙m/kg
Graphene specific strength 4.7–5.5×10^7 N∙m/ kg (Carbyne 28-36% stronger)
carbon nanotubes specific strength 4.3–5.0×10^7 N∙m/ kg (Carbyne 40-50% stronger)
diamond specific strength 2.5–6.5×10^7 N∙m/kg (Carbyne 15-140% stronger)

Carbyne has other interesting properties too. Its flexibility is somewhere between that of a typical polymer and double-stranded DNA. And when twisted, it can either rotate freely or become torsionally stiff depending on the chemical group attached to its end.

Perhaps most interesting is the Rice team’s calculation of carbyne’s stability. They agree that two chains in contact can react but there is an activation barrier that prevents this happening readily. “This barrier suggests the viability of carbyne in condensed phase at room temperature on the order of days,” they conclude.

Counting Foxconn robots and China made robots, China is the largest robot market and targets 25% per year growth

From Frank Tobe's Robot Report - China’s 12th 5-Year Plan targeted robotics as a growth industry necessary for China’s development. It expects a compound growth rate of 25%, said Wang Weiming, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The ministry has set up incentives and 5 geographical areas for Chinese companies to develop (and improve the quality of) their robot products and capabilities. The ambitious plan includes a goal of 30% to be produced with homegrown technologies.

In addition to Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, authorities in Liaoning province are constructing a robot industrial complex so that by 2017 they expect $8 billion for robots and other automation equipment.

China is now or will be (by 2014) the largest market for robots depending how robots are counted. [Everything Robotic]

Ilian Bonev, an Associate Professor in Robotics at the École de technology supérieure in Montreal, Canada, in a recent post, suggests that China probably already has become the largest user of industrial robots in the world. Citing data from the IFR which showed that 23,000 robots were sold into China in 2012, Bonev added 9,800 robots manufactured by six major Chinese vendors giving a total of 32,800 - 4,000 greater than the 28,700 sold into Japan in 2012. Hence his claim that China has already become the largest buyer of robots.

Elon Musk Gets more Tesla Options if Valuation goes over $43.2 billion

Elon Musk and Tesla spell long term goals in the Tesla's proxy statement. These goals need to be completed by Aug. 18, 2022, in order for Musk to receive various option grant.

The company goals set around Musk's compensation package are:

* Successful completion of the Model X Engineering Prototype
* Successful completion of the Model X Vehicle Prototype
* Completion of the first Model X Production Vehicle
* Successful completion of the Gen III Engineering Prototype
* Successful completion of the Gen III Vehicle Prototype
* Completion of the first Gen III Production Vehicle
* Gross margin of 30% or more for four consecutive quarters
* Aggregate vehicle production of 100,000 vehicles
* Aggregate vehicle production of 200,000 vehicles
* Aggregate vehicle production of 300,000 vehicles
* Market capitalization of $43.2 billion

The Nummi plant that Tesla took over has the capacity to produce 500,000 cars per year.
Gen III success with a $30,000 to $45,000 car could fill up the remaining production capacity. Gen III will likely be introduced in 2015 or 2016. I think the market cap target could be reached by 2017 if Tesla was selling all 500,000 cars each year. Tesla would also then get another plant or two.

Alfin Seems to be back online and blogging

A new Alfin blog is not an attempt to replace earlier Al Fin blogs. The hibernating family of Al Fin blogs found on were dedicated largely to the idea of “the next level,” and helping the best of humanity to survive to reach it.

Alfin was unable to inform readers of those blogs of their closing in advance, or to provide a link to this blog. Google’s decision to deny administrative access to those blogs made those ordinary courtesies impossible apparently.

MIT 3D Interlock Variants and Closer to Utility Fog

MIt Gershenfeld created a new 3D interlock structure — which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts — to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily — such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

There are different variations of the structure which spring to mind -

1. For Tall Buildings and Bridges

Larger pieces to the length of 1 meter or 2 meters may be better suited to some construction applications. These larger structure might not have the ultralight benefits but could be superior in strength for making tall buildings. The construction approach would as a baseline not require welding. Also, modifications could be made to have either locking pins or a locking cover over the joints to reinforce or hold them in.

In the lab, a sample of the cellular composite material is prepared for testing of its strength properties. Photo courtesy of Kenneth Cheung

August 15, 2013

SENS research progress to a replacement thymus to boost aging immune systems and to curing macular degeneration

SENS, Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence, is research focused on repairing the seven known damages that are associated with aging. They have published their 2013 research report (26 pages).

SENS Research Foundation is funding with the goal of applying it to a primary problem of aging: the decline of the immune system . Only a few of us will ever need a new portal vein or trachea — but nearly all of us will need a new thymus, which plays an indispensible role in the immune system . The fine structures and functioning cells of the thymus we were born with will slowly degenerate between our teen years and our sixties; as the organ begins to fail with age, we become increasingly vulnerable to influenza and other common infectious diseases. With SRF support, Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine researchers are now making rapid progress in work to apply the decellularized-recellularized scaffold method to the thymus in animal models . SRF is excited to be spearheading the adaptation of existing techniques to geriatric medicine, where innovation is so sorely needed . But we know that this alone is not enough to address the emerging health crisis posed by agerelated disease, which has surpassed infectious disease as the most pressing health problem facing humanity today

SENS Research Foundation is currently the only research nonprofit pushing the boundaries of the field toward the molecular level, where much of the damage of aging resides. Treating the symptoms of the resulting pathologies can only take us so far, because the body's repair and maintenance mechanisms continue to deteriorate . SRF's unique dedication to identifying and alleviating the damage that long precedes pathology serves as the basis for much of our work . Our longest-running project in this vein targets age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 65 . Macular degeneration is caused by the accumulation of a toxic byproduct of the visual cycle called A2E, which builds up in the retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells responsible for maintaining the light-sensing cells of the eye . We are working to preserve and restore the health of these cells by fortifying them with new, engineered enzymes capable of clearing A2E deposits . In 2012, scientists in our Research Center identified an enzyme (SENS20) that has since demonstrated efficacy in degrading A2E not only in vitro, but in RPE cells administered an A2E "stress test ."

MIT new 3D chainmail interlock system with ten times the stiffness by weight will revolutionize assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures

Researchers invent a new approach to assembling big structures — even airplanes and bridges — out of small interlocking composite components.
MIT researchers have developed a lightweight structure whose tiny blocks can be snapped together much like the bricks of a child’s construction toy. The new material, the researchers say, could revolutionize the assembly of airplanes, spacecraft, and even larger structures, such as dikes and levees.

NBF - This is huge. It boosts what is possible with additive manufacturing and 3D printing. This will revolutionize manufacturing and construction.

UPDATE - I have added a discussion of variants to the 3D interlock system and compare it to the Utility Fog concept

Gershenfeld likens the structure — which is made from tiny, identical, interlocking parts — to chainmail. The parts, based on a novel geometry that Cheung developed with Gershenfeld, form a structure that is 10 times stiffer for a given weight than existing ultralight materials. But this new structure can also be disassembled and reassembled easily — such as to repair damage, or to recycle the parts into a different configuration.

Journal Science - Reversibly Assembled Cellular Composite Materials

Patience and Economic Progress is a better strategy and solution than War, Confrontation and Fighting

Sun Tzu is the classic book on military strategy.

He indicated that it is best to win before the battle.

Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
(1) He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
(2) He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
(3) He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
(4) He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
(5) He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign

So you have to be prepared but the main field of action now is economic and that can be cooperative.
There are more times when it is better not to fight.

Having a well run country with a strong and growing economy is a better strategy than going to wars to try to take territory from others. Wars and excessive reliance on fighting and preparing to fight can often be ineffective and inefficient. Solutions and options should be analyzed in terms of effectiveness and efficiency. Some defense is needed and sometimes conflict can be effective, efficient and necessary. However, this needs to be analyzed more precisely and pragmatically.

This is the case of Germany where they had two failed wars of conquest in WW1 and WW2. Yet with the formation of the EU with France, Germany obtains the benefits of Europe wide trade and political influence without the cost and resistance that come with war.

China did not get back to success until they turned to policies of economic progress.

Canada like the US and Australia gains people from other nations by attracting them to immigrate. This can allow for a selective process where the bias is towards wealthier and more educated immigrants and those without criminal records. When a territory is conquered you get all of the conquered people even if they are poor, resistant, uneducated or criminal.

Broad Group says Sky City completion will be in 2014 and will start assembly April, 2014

The actual onsite construction of the 202 story Sky City [assembly?] won't start until next April, according to Wang Shuguang, general manager of Broad Group's US operation, which is based in New Jersey.

Sky City's construction cost is estimated at $ 1.47 billion compared to the Burj Khalifa's $ 1.5 billion. But the big difference between the two buildings is that the Dubai tower took five years to build and Sky City will take seven months.

George Schulz agrees with the obvious solution to the drug problem

George Schulz agrees that we should consider decriminalizing drugs and treating abuse as a health problem.

Nextbigfuture has held this view for a few decades. The US war on drugs was and is stupid and screws up the countries to the south that end up supplying it. It also provides money to problem areas in Afghanistan.

As I [George Schulz] have thought about this pressing and highly charged issue over the years, my attitude has become considerably more insistent that drug abuse should be treated as a health problem. We should carefully study the experiences of other countries with decriminalization—as distinct from simple legalization—of drugs.

How costly is this war on drugs? A good friend of mine, Nobel Laureate in Economics Gary Becker, and his colleagues estimated in 2005 that the direct costs are over $100 billion annually in police services, court time, effort spent on offenders, and imprisonment—a minimum of about $40,000 per year per prisoner. Becker notes that this estimate does not include “intangible costs, such as the destructive effects on many inner city neighborhoods, the use of the American military to fight drug lords and farmers in Colombia and other nations, or the corrupting influence of drugs on many governments.”

The war on drugs that has been waged in the United States for over forty years now has failed, just as our national experiment with the prohibition of alcohol failed.

C1q protein and not amyloid plaque should be target for Alzheimer's treatment

The pharmaceutical industry has spent billions of dollars on futile clinical trials directed at treating Alzheimer’s disease by ridding brains of a substance called amyloid plaque. But the new findings have identified another mechanism, involving an entirely different substance, that may lie at the root not only of Alzheimer’s but of many other neurodegenerative disorders — and, perhaps, even the more subtle decline that accompanies normal aging.

The study, published Aug. 14 in the Journal of Neuroscience, reveals that with advancing age, a protein called C1q, well-known as a key initiator of immune response, increasingly lodges at contact points connecting nerve cells in the brain to one another. Elevated C1q concentrations at these contact points, or synapses, may render them prone to catastrophic destruction by brain-dwelling immune cells, triggered when a catalytic event such as brain injury, systemic infection or a series of small strokes unleashes a second set of substances on the synapses.

Journal of Neuroscience - A Dramatic Increase of C1q Protein in the CNS during Normal Aging

Energy supply is critical to how much economic growth India can achieve by 2050

Nuclear energy must be a significant part of the mix if India is to grow electricity supply by 625% to meet development goals, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar.

The average per capita electricity production in an industrially advanced nation is at around 10,000 kWh, whereas in India it is at around 800 kWh per person. An increase of at least 625% in electricity production, to 5000 kWh per capita, would be needed for India to maintain its economic growth. India's population is projected to be about 1.6 to 1.7 billion in 2050. If we use 1.6 billion then total electricity demand would be 8000 TWh. India wants 8-9% GDP per capita growth. The challenges to build out power production and the electrical grid for 4.9% or even 6.3% GDP growth (the IEA projections) would also be challenging. The baseline projection would be to have the energy mix mostly come from coal (just like China's energy mix to this point). Nextbigfuture believes that India will be challenged to achieve 5-6% GDP growth to 2050. It seems like the hope for sustained 8-9% GDP growth is not realistic barring massive shifts in governance and ability to execute or radical shift in a global technology that enables faster economic growth for the world.

An IEA analysis for India indicates that electricity demand can be limited to 3 700 TWh in 2050. This would allow for the projected annual increase of 4.9% in gross domestic product (GDP) and 0.8% in population, and access to electricity for all. This demand can be met with a capacity of 748GW, which implies an expansion by 580GW compared to the installed capacity in 2007/08. In a strong growth case, which is based on an average annual GDP growth rate of 6.3% between 2007 and 2050,the total capacity requirement in 2050 increases to 1277GW.

The strong growth case finds that nuclear capacity would have to increase by a factor of 50, and hydro capacity by a factor of four. Solar capacity would have to reach 370GW by 2050 compared to 191GW in the BLUE Map Scenario and just 13 MW in 2010.

The Indian projections of the GDP level in 2050 are more than twice as high as the IEA projections. CEA projections for the average annual growth rate in GDP for the 2005‐30 period are about two percentage points higher than the IEA projection (8% per year for CEA vs. about 6% for IEA). For the 2030‐50 period, the difference in projected growth rates increases to 2.5 percentage points(5.8% for CEA and about 3.3% for IEA).

Intel Construction of 450mm Fab started January 2013

The Intel fab -- known as D1X module 2 -- is intended to be a development fab for production of ICs on 450mm diameter wafers. However, the breaking of ground for the wafer fab was not widely reported at the time it occurred.

The first D1X module is expected to be the first wafer fab to produce 14nm FinFET chips for Intel on 300mm diameter wafers. Back in October 2012 Intel said construction of D1X module 2 would begin in 2013 and take more than two years to complete, with wafer manufacturing equipment installation expected to begin in 2015, which would put first wafers out in 2016.

D1X module 2 is also expected to be connected to the existing D1X with the likelihood that this will include a link between clean rooms.

The 450 mm fab is expected to cost $2 billion, not including equipment, but there is no schedule for when the fab will start, the spokesperson added.

August 14, 2013

F35 fighter would be clubbed like baby seals in combat

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter was meant to improve the U.S. air arsenal but has made it more vulnerable instead.

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a do-it-all strike jet being designed by Lockheed Martin to evade enemy radars, bomb ground targets and shoot down rival fighters — is as troubled as ever.

Compromised design is second rate. Overweight and underpowered

Owing to heavy design compromises foisted on the plane mostly by the Marine Corps, the F-35 is an inferior combatant, seriously outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better. In a fast-moving aerial battle, the JSF “is a dog … overweight and underpowered,” according to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight.

And future enemy planes, designed strictly with air combat in mind, could prove even deadlier to the compromised JSF.

It doesn’t really matter how smoothly Lockheed and the government’s work on the new warplane proceeds. Even the best-manufactured JSF is a second-rate fighter where it actually matters — in the air, in life-or-death combat against a determined foe. And that could mean a death sentence for American pilots required to fly the vulnerable F-35.

Nuclear Energy Roundup - Russian nuclear ambitions, Yucca Mountain

1. The head of the Russian state-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom, Sergey Kiriyenko, has predicted that China will soon become Russia’s main competitor on the global nuclear industry market.

“As far as all the recent foreign contracts for nuclear energy projects are concerned, we have defeated or main competitors, the United States, France and Japan,” Kiriyenko said. “But in a very short while, we will have to compete with Chinese nuclear reactor designs rather than the American AP-1000 reactors.”

He went on to say that labour costs and the price of equipment will be the two most important competitive factors.

NBF Notes - South Korea is also a strong competitor in the global nuclear market.

2. Backed by President Vladimir Putin, state-run atomic energy company Rosatom is redoubling its efforts to sell to developing countries such as China, India, and Vietnam.

"We want to make profits out of nuclear energy. We want to power the world," Rosatom chief Sergei Kiriyenko, a reform-minded politician and Russia's youngest-ever prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, told the IAEA forum.

In Russia there are nine reactors under construction, making it the world's second busiest market behind China.

China relaxing one child policy by the end of 2013 and could go to two child by 2015

State news agency Xinhua has said China will relax the one child law to allow couples to have a second child if either parent is the only child by the end of the year. Currently, both parents must be sole children to be eligible for a second child.

Chinese authorities have said they are considering lifting their controversial one-child policy by the end of 2015. The new law could be extended to allow all families to have a second child by 2015. China previously relaxed the policy to allow rural couples a second child if their first offspring was a girl.

"China's one-child policy could be eased around end-2013. We believe that the reform-minded president Xi and premier Li will use the opportunity of abolishing the one-child policy to build up their authority, show their determination in making changes and convince the Chinese people that they do have a roadmap for reforms," said Ting Lu and Xiaojia Zhi, China economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BoFAML).

BoFAML estimates more than 9.5 million babies could be born if the policy was relaxed on top of the 16 million a year born in the mainland every year.

According to the 2005 population survey, singletons account for 29.3% of Chinese aged 30 or under (the generation affected by the one-child policy). The ratio should be significantly higher in urban areas. Assuming 60% of people of child bearing age in urban areas are singletons, on top of the 36% families which are already allowed to have two children, we estimate 48% of urban families of child bearing age could benefit from the coming reform. Using census data, there are 79 million women of child bearing age (23 to 42) this year. 48% of 79mn is 38mn. Assuming 25% of them choose to have a second child, about 9.5mn babies would be born as a result of this reform to one-child policy.

Note- Invitro fertilization now can cost $250 (technology makes it 30 times cheaper). This can expand the child bearing age to 50 or 55.

China annual number of babies could go from 16 million to 25.5 million babies in 2016.

US Census Bureau, 2010 estimate before this change

2020: 1,384,545,000
2030: 1,391,491,000
2040: 1,358,519,000
2050: 1,303,723,000

After the change (plus a complete lifting of any restrictions around 2020 and a shift to incentiving babies in 2025), I estimate

2020: 1.43 billion
2030: 1.53 billion
2040: 1.6 billion
2050: 1.65 billion

Here is an analysis of China's population based on changes in total fertility combined with improved life expectancy.

Spacex Grasshopper Divert

On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle's ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.

Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.

Direct Fusion Drive for Fast Mars Missions

Joseph Mueller of Princeton Satellite systems presented to the NASA Future in Space Operations (FISO) on Direct Fusion Drive for Fast Mars Missions

* Total mass of the mission is critical
* Cost is proportional to mass

Princeton Satellite Systems has licensed two fusion patents from Princeton University

NBF Note - John Slough is also working on direct drive fusion system which does not need Helium-3 and has different technical issues and potential performance I like the John Slough system more. This system has some interesting analysis but is shaped as a justification for the overpriced Space Launch System. This Princeton system looks like it will take a lot longer and cost more to get anywhere near ready.

World all liquids oil supply at 91.85 million barrels per day

Global supply is estimated to have increased by 575 kb/d m-o-m in July, to 91.85 mb/d, led by higher non-OPEC production. Strong growth in North America is expected to lift 2H13 total non-OPEC supply by an average 1.4 mb/d y-o-y, to reach 55.4 mb/d in 4Q13.

Global refinery crude demand surged by 3.1 mb/d in June, its highest monthly increase on record, and likely rose further in July, ahead of autumn maintenance. At 77.2 mb/d, June runs were almost 2.0 mb/d above year-earlier levels. Global runs were pegged at 74.8 mb/d for 2Q13, rising to 77.3 mb/d in 3Q13.

August 13, 2013

Metamaterials are set to migrate out of the laboratory and into the marketplace

Metamaterial applications such as cheaper satellite communications, thinner smartphones and ultrafast optical data processing are where metamaterials are poised to make a huge impact within a year or so.

Kymeta of Redmond, Washington, a spin-off from Intellectual Ventures, hopes to market a compact antenna that would be one of the first consumer-oriented products based on metamaterials. The relatively inexpensive device would carry broadband satellite communications to and from planes, trains, ships, cars and any other platform required to function in remote locations far from mobile networks.

At the heart of the antenna — the details of which are confidential — is a flat circuit board containing thousands of electronic metamaterial elements, each of which can have its properties changed in an instant by the device's internal software. This allows the antenna to track a satellite across the sky without having to maintain a specific orientation towards it, the way a standard dish antenna does. Instead, the antenna remains still while the software constantly adjusts the electrical properties of each individual metamaterial element. When this is done correctly, waves emitted from the elements will reinforce one another and propagate skywards only in the direction of the satellite; waves emitted in any other direction will cancel one another out and go nowhere. At the same time — and for much the same reason — the array will most readily pick up signals if they are coming from the satellite.

This technology is more compact than alternatives such as dish antennas. It offers “significant savings in terms of cost, weight and power draw”. Kymeta has already performed demonstrations of this technology for investors and potential development partners. But Smith cautions that the company has yet to set a price for the antenna and that it must still work to bring production costs down while maintaining the strict performance standards that regulatory agencies demand for any device communicating with satellites. Kymeta's antenna will first by used on private jets and passenger planes. If buyers respond well, the company hopes to incorporate the technology into other product lines, such as portable, energy-efficient satellite-communication units for rescue workers or researchers in the field.

Elon Musk wants Hyperloop enough that he will probably make a subscale demonstration system

Elon Musk now says he will probably build a subscale version that's operating.

Musk said ironing out full details on a potential demonstration Hyperloop is a "tricky" process. But nonetheless, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said he would "probably end up doing that." The busy executive warned that it wouldn't be an immediate priority, ranked behind his ongoing commitments. "I would like to see it come to fruition."

Musk said this prototype would be constructed in a "test area" that wouldn't require local clearance, allowing him to move faster in executing on his vision. "If somebody else does the demo, that'll be really awesome." But make no mistake: he's thinking about it. Musk revealed that he's already dedicated "some full-time days" to researching a Hyperloop alpha. "If it was my top priority, I could probably get it done in one or two years," he said, suggesting somewhere between three and four years to be a more realistic timeframe.

Elon Musk should work with Disneyland or similar amusement park

Elon Musk could make an updated version of the monorail in Disneyland.

There should be some country where he can expedited clearances for a system that would be demonstrator that could be converted into operational usage. An all cargo version could also be easier to certify.

Scientists genetically modify T cells derived from pluripotent stem cells to attack lymphatic tumors for unlimited number of tumor killing cells

scientists have combined the ability to reprogram stem cells into T cells with a recently developed strategy for genetically modifying patients’ own T cells to seek and destroy tumors. The result is the capacity to mass-produce in the laboratory an unlimited quantity of cancer-fighting cells that resemble natural T cells, a type of white blood cell that fights cancer and viruses.

This could provide an unlimited number of tumor killing cells.

Nature Biotechnology - Generation of tumor-targeted human T lymphocytes from induced pluripotent stem cells for cancer therapy

Progress in adoptive T-cell therapy for cancer and infectious diseases is hampered by the lack of readily available, antigen-specific, human T lymphocytes. Pluripotent stem cells could provide an unlimited source of T lymphocytes, but the therapeutic potential of human pluripotent stem cell–derived lymphoid cells generated to date remains uncertain. Here we combine induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)7 and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)8 technologies to generate human T cells targeted to CD19, an antigen expressed by malignant B cells, in tissue culture. These iPSC-derived, CAR-expressing T cells display a phenotype resembling that of innate γδ T cells. Similar to CAR-transduced, peripheral blood γδ T cells, the iPSC–derived T cells potently inhibit tumor growth in a xenograft model. This approach of generating therapeutic human T cells 'in the dish' may be useful for cancer immunotherapy and other medical applications.

Rise of Cell Therapy Trials for Stroke: Review of Published and Registered Studies

Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the third leading cause of disability worldwide. Approximately 16 million first-ever strokes occur each year, leading to nearly 6 million deaths. Nevertheless, currently, very few therapeutic options are available. Cell therapies have been applied successfully in different hematological diseases, and are currently being investigated for treating ischemic heart disease, with promising results. Recent preclinical studies have indicated that cell therapies may provide structural and functional benefits after stroke. However, the effects of these treatments are not yet fully understood and are the subject of continuing investigation. Meanwhile, different clinical trials for stroke, the majority of them small, nonrandomized, and uncontrolled, have been reported, and their results indicate that cell therapy seems safe and feasible in these conditions. In the last 2 years, the number of published and registered trials has dramatically increased. Here, we review the main findings available in the field, with emphasis on the clinical results. Moreover, we address some of the questions that have been raised to date, to improve future studies.

There were31 articles in the English language involving 20 different trials of cell therapies for stroke, with a total of 243 treated patients. Sixteen of these articles and 12 of the trials were published in the last 2 years. Twelve trials were for ischemic, two for hemorrhagic, and six for ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes. Six trials performed intravenous transplants; five injected the cells in the parenchyma; five used the intra-arterial route; three carried out intrathecal administrations; and one trial compared intra-arterial and intravenous routes.

Schematic illustrating the different cells and routes of administration used in published trials. The schematic also illustrates other types of cells used in registered trials (in dotted rectangles). NT2N, human teratocarcinoma-derived neurons; UC-MSCs, umbilical cord-derived mesenchymal stem cells; UCB-MNCs, umbilical cord blood-mononuclear cells; BM-MNCs, bone marrow-mononuclear cells; BM-MSCs, bone marrow-mesenchymal stem cells; PB-HSPC, peripheral blood-hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell; NSPCs, neural stem/progenitor cells; OECs, olfactory-ensheathing cells; MSCs, mesenchymal stem cells; EPCs, endothelial progenitor cells.

Gene Therapy for Rare Diseases

A San Francisco startup called Audentes Therapeutics has $30 million in funding to develop gene therapy for rare diseases

Netherlands-based UniQure broke through in November, 2012 with the first gene therapy approved in Europe, and growing scientific enthusiasm around a series of technical improvements helped propel Cambridge, MA-based Bluebird Bio (NASDAQ: BLUE) to one of the most successful biotech IPOs of the year.

Carnival of Space 314

The Carnival of Space 314 is up at Dear Astronomer.

Universe Today - A new project that aims to map the Universe’s structure has looked back in time to create a 3-D map showing a portion of the Universe as it looked nine billion years ago. It shows numerous galaxies and interestingly, already-developed large-scale structure of filaments and voids made from galaxy groups.

Easily Retrievable Objects Among the Near Earth Object Population

Asteroids and comets are of strategic importance for science in an effort to understand the formation, evolution and composition of the Solar System. Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) are of particular interest because of their accessibility from Earth, but also because of their speculated wealth of material resources. The exploitation of these resources has long been discussed as a means to lower the cost of future space endeavours. In this paper, we consider the currently known NEO population and define a family of so-called Easily Retrievable Objects (EROs), objects that can be transported from accessible heliocentric orbits into the Earth’s neighbourhood at affordable costs. The asteroid retrieval transfers are sought from the continuum of low energy transfers enabled by the dynamics of invariant manifolds; specifically, the retrieval transfers target planar, vertical Lyapunov and halo orbit families associated with the collinear equilibrium points of the Sun-Earth Circular Restricted Three Body problem. The judicious use of these dynamical features provides the best opportunity to find extremely low energy Earth transfers for asteroid material. A catalogue of asteroid retrieval candidates is then presented. Despite the highly incomplete census of very small asteroids, the ERO catalogue can already be populated with 12 different objects retrievable with less than 500 m/s of Δv. Moreover, the approach proposed represents a robust search and ranking methodology for future retrieval candidates that can be automatically applied to the growing survey of NEOs.

August 12, 2013

Costs Breakdown of the Hyperloop

A high speed transportation system known as Hyperloop has been developed in this document. The work has detailed two version of the Hyperloop: a passenger only version and a passenger plus vehicle version. Hyperloop could transport people, vehicles, and freight between Los Angeles and San Francisco in 35 minutes. Transporting 7.4 million people each way and amortizing the cost of $6 billion over 20 years gives a ticket price of $20 for a one-way trip for the passenger version of Hyperloop. The passenger plus vehicle version of the Hyperloop is less than 9% of the cost of the proposed passenger only high speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

An additional passenger plus transport version of the Hyperloop has been created that is only 25% higher in cost than the passenger only version. This version would be capable of transport passengers, vehicles, freight, etc. The passenger plus vehicle version of the Hyperloop is less than 11% of the cost of the proposed passenger only high speed rail system between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Additional technological developments and further optimization could likely reduce this price.

The intent of this document has been to create a new open source form of transportation that could revolutionize travel. The authors welcome feedback and will incorporate it into future revisions of the Hyperloop project, following other open source models such as Linux.

The total cost of the Hyperloop passenger transportation system as outlined is less than $6 billion USD.

The passenger plus vehicle version of Hyperloop is including both passenger and cargo capsules and the total cost is outlined as $7.5 billion USD

Hyperloop Capsule

Elon Musk revealed the details of his Hyperloop transportation concept. Here are details of about the capsule and compressor.

Hyperloop Passenger Capsule

The maximum width is 4.43 ft (1.35 m) and maximum height is 6.11 ft (1.10 m). With rounded corners, this is equivalent to a 15 ft^2 (1.4 m^2) frontal area, not including any propulsion or suspension components.

The aerodynamic power requirements at 700 mph (1,130 kph) is around only 134 hp (100kW) with a drag force of only 72 lbf(320N),or about the same force as the weight of one oversizedchecked bag at the airport.

The doors on each side will open in a gullwing (or possibly sliding) manner to allow easy access during loading and unloading. The luggage compartment will be at the front or rear of the capsule.

The overall structure weight is expected to be near 6,800 lb (3,100 kg) including the luggage compartments and door mechanism. The overall cost of the structure including manufacturing is targeted to be no more than $245,000

The tesla motors pdf copy could get overloaded. Here is the pdf on Spacex

Elon Musk Hyperloop all the technical details of the Alpha design of the fifth mode of transportation that solves the Kantrowitz limit

The Hyperloop design is trying to achieve the following objectives. (57 page pdf)

The tesla motors pdf copy could get overloaded. Here is the pdf on Spacex

* Safer
* Faster
* Lower cost
* More convenient
* Immune to weather
* Sustainably self-powering
* Resistant to Earthquakes
* Not disruptive to those along the route

Overcoming the Kantrowitz Limit

Whenever you have a capsule or pod (I am using the words interchangeably) moving at high speed through a tube containing air, there is a minimum tube to pod area ratio below which you will choke the flow. What
this means is that if the walls of the tube and the capsule are too close together, the capsule will behave like a syringe and eventually be forced to push the entire column of air in the system. Not good.

Nature’s top speed law for a given tube to pod are a ratio is known as the Kantrowitz limit. This is highly problematic, as it forces you to either go slowly or have a super huge diameter tube. Interestingly, there are usually two solutions to the Kantrowitz limit

1) where you go slowly
2) where you go really, really fast.

The latter solution sounds mighty appealing at first, until you realize that going several thousand miles per hour means that you can’t tolerate even wide turns without painful g loads. For a journey from San Francisco to LA, you will also experience a rather intense speed up and slow down. And, when you get right
down to it, going through transonic buffet in a tube is just fundamentally a dodgy prospect.

Both for trip comfort and safety, it would be best to travel at high subsonic speeds for a 350 mile journey. For much longer journeys, such as LA to NY, it would be worth exploring super high speeds and this is probably technically feasible, but, as mentioned above, I believe the economics would probably favor a supersonic plane.

The approach that I believe would overcome the Kantrowitz limit is to mount an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel. This is like having a pump in the head of the syringe actively relieving pressure.

Elon Musk has released technical details of the Hyperloop transportation system today at 1:30 PDT

The Hyperloop announcement today at 1:30 PDT.

Elon Musk tweeted- Pulled all nighter working on Hyperloop (as did others). Hopefully not too many mistakes.

I will update this posting as news is released.

Here is the blog posting from Elon Musk at the Tesla Motors blog

The pdf for the Hyperloop alpha design is here

I have begun extracting the highlights of the design at this link here

The approach that Elon Musk believes would overcome the Kantrowitz limit is to mount an electric compressor fan on the nose of the pod that actively transfers high pressure air from the front to the rear of the vessel. This is like having a pump in the head of the syringe actively relieving pressure.

It would also simultaneously solve another problem, which is how to create a low friction suspension system when traveling at over 700 mph. Wheels don’t work very well at that sort of speed, but a cushion of air does. Air bearings, which use the same basic principle as an air hockey table, have been demonstrated to work at speeds of Mach 1.1 with very low friction. In this case, however, it is the pod that is producing the air cushion, rather than the tube, as it is important to make the tube as low cost and simple as possible.

That then begs the next question of whether a battery can store enough energy to power a fan for the length of the journey with room to spare. Based on our calculations, this is no problem, so long as the energy used to accelerate the pod is not drawn from the battery pack.

This is where the external linear electric motor comes in, which is simply a round induction motor (like the one in the Tesla Model S) rolled flat. This would accelerate the pod to high subsonic velocity and provide a periodic reboost roughly every 70 miles. The linear electric motor is needed for as little as ~1% of the tube length, so is not particularly costly.

Elon Musk announced his plans on twitter.

Will publish Hyperloop alpha design by Aug 12. Critical feedback for improvements would be much appreciated.

Previously Elon Musk has given a brief summary of his vision for the Hyperloop.

August 11, 2013

A practical new approach to holographic video could also enable better 2-D displays

MIT reported a new approach to generating holograms that could lead to color holographic-video displays that are much cheaper to manufacture than today’s experimental, monochromatic displays. The same technique could also increase the resolution of conventional 2-D displays.

Using the new technique, Daniel Smalley, a graduate student in the Media Lab and first author on the new paper, is building a prototype color holographic-video display whose resolution is roughly that of a standard-definition TV and which can update video images 30 times a second, fast enough to produce the illusion of motion. The heart of the display is an optical chip, resembling a microscope slide, that Smalley built, using only MIT facilities, for about $10.

“Everything else in there costs more than the chip,” says Smalley’s thesis advisor, Michael Bove, a principal research scientist at the Media Lab and head of its Object-Based Media Group. “The power supplies in there cost more than the chip. The plastic costs more than the chip.”

The lab, known for inventing the technology behind electronic ink, has created a holographic chip that can support the display of more than 50 gigapixels per second and simulate real-life objects by bending projected light in a continuous range of directions, eliminating the need for three-dimensional glasses.

Journal Nature- Anisotropic leaky-mode modulator for holographic video displays

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