August 24, 2013

Long term value should guide companies and governments

Short-term shareholder value maximization is still pervasive in large organizations but has destroyed major segments of the US economy and killed the recovery from the financial crisis of 2008

It has led to “bad profits” that have destroyed customer loyalty.
It is responsible for massive offshoring of manufacturing, thereby destroying major segments of the US economy.
It has even undermined US capacity to compete in international markets.

The Financial Times reports that the short-term shareholder value theory has a new feather in its cap: it is responsible for killing the economic recovery that should have occurred after the financial meltdown of 2008.

In his article entitled “Corporate investment: A mysterious divergence” he explores a conundrum that has puzzled the world’s top economists: why is net investment at a measly 4 per cent of output when pre-tax corporate profits are now at record highs – more than 12 per cent of GDP?

In standard economic theory, this makes no sense. When profits go up, companies should be seizing investment opportunities to lay the groundwork for even more profits in future. In turn, that investment should create jobs, generate more capital goods and lead to higher wages.

The reasons listed below are proven false
* wrong—regulations
* Obamacare
* tax policy
* fear of another financial crisis

Private US companies invest nearly twice as much as those listed on the stock market: 6.8 per cent of total assets versus just 3.7 per cent

The difference is the private companies are not maximizing quarterly profits. They have the same regulations, taxes and other factors.

Starship Congress Day 3 video, schedule and abstracts

Day 3 – Interstellar Future (50 years +) | Saturday August 17th, 2013

The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.

For 2013, the Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress is a four-day event. The first three days are dedicated to interstellar accomplishments in specific timescales: Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years), Interstellar This Lifetime (20-50 Years), and Interstellar Future (50 Years+). These are the near-term, medium-term and long-term focuses necessary for the realization of our ambition. The fourth day will be a wrap-up of the Starship Congress with a chance to network and plan for the future.

Presenters are a combination of scientists, physicists, engineers, researchers, and representatives from international space programs and present-day commercial space operators, as well as popular and well-known interstellar speakers and space journalists. Special note: Day 3 presenters include Science Fiction celebrities, authors and creators. The fourth day is for discussion of future plans and a summary of the congress.

Day 3 will focus on what we can accomplish on very long timescales beginning 50 years from now and extending out to the next 500 years. Areas of interest will include exploring and populating nearby star systems, the ethics of colonization, SETI and first-contact scenarios, exotic propulsion, warp drives, wormholes, vacuum energy, worldships, hibernation ships and humanity’s expansion into the galaxy.

8:30am Coffee
8:45am Introduction to Day 3
9:00am Keynote: Sonny White, “Warp Field Physics: an Update”

I have a detailed set of screenshots and breakdown of Sonny Whites talk in another article.

9:45am Presentation 1: Eric Davis, “Faster-Than-Light Space Warps: What’s It All About?”

Eric Davis has a quick review of the theory behind wormholes and faster than light travel and then he describes how we might generate a lot of negative energy in the near term.

10:10am Presentation 2: Hal Puthoff, “Engineering the Spacetime Metric for Interstellar Flight”
From about 1 hour 40 minutes into the video

Engineering the Spacetime Metric for Interstellar Flight: An Engineering Approach to General Relativity:

Conventional wisdom has it that the probability of interstellar travel is vanishingly small due to the enormous distances involved, coupled with the velocity-of-light limitation. Analyses within the context of general relativistic dynamics, however, indicate the naïvete of this assumption. We discuss here a broad, general approach that might loosely be called ‘metric engineering,’ the details of which provide support for the concept that reduced-time interstellar travel is not, as naïve consideration might hold, fundamentally constrained by physical principles. Empty space itself (the quantum vacuum, or spacetime metric) can in principle be engineered so as to provide the requisite conditions for viable future interstellar flight. Although far-reaching, such a proposal is solidly grounded in modern physical theory, and therefore the possibility that matter/vacuum interactions might be engineered for spaceflight applications will be shown not to be a priori ruled out.

10:35am Break
10:45am Presentation 3: Marc Millis, “Transgalactic Travel Guide” & “From Sci-Fi to Sci-Method – Space Drives”

Transgalactic Travel Guide:

Traveling through our galaxy takes time. How fast must our spacecraft travel to reach interesting destinations before the spacecraft’s warranty expires? Our galaxy is so astronomically large that it is difficult to comprehend. To help convey these vast distances in human terms, a “Transgalactic Travel Guide” is offered. This simple chart plots distances to intragalactic destinations versus time, as a function of 6 different flight speeds. Speeds range from the poky 0.00006c of Voyager all the way to lightspeed. Interesting destinations include the edge of our solar system, the Oort Cloud, Alpha Centauri, and estimates for the closest habitable planet and extraterrestrial intelligence. Time scales span a week through the final demise of Earth. A tutorial is presented to teach you how to read and use this chart, so you can plot your own galactic adventures.

Abstract for the second talk, From Sci-Fi to Sci-Method – A Case Study with Space Drives:

Science fiction can be upgraded into scientific inquiry. By contrasting the highly desirable goals from science fiction against accrued scientific knowledge, the critical unknowns and issues can be identified. These can be distilled into problem statements – the first step of the scientific method. The problem statements then guide the collection of relevant information, the second step of the scientific method. This process is illustrated for the case of non-rocket space drives, the kind of propulsion that enables craft to levitate above the ground and then ascend effortlessly into space – and then travel more ably than propellant-constrained rockets. Multiple fictional images are toyed with, explained with analogies, and then finally set in the context of a problem definition to guide genuine scientific inquires. Whether or not the desired breakthroughs are achievable, this line of inquiry presents different perspectives toward solving the lingering mysteries of physics. Specifically, space drive inquiries highlight physics issues about the inertial frame properties of spacetime.

11:10am Presentation 4: Jeff Lee, “Singularity Propulsion – Acceleration of a Schwarzschild Kugelblitz Starship”

Singularity Propulsion: The Acceleration Curves of a Schwarzschild Kugelblitz Starship:

The petawatt Hawking radiation of γ-ray laser-created subatomic black holes (Schwarzschild Kugelblitzes or SKs) has been proposed as a propulsive and power source for interstellar starships. In order to avoid underestimates of a SK’s Hawking power by approximately 3 orders of magnitude and overestimates of its life expectancy by 2-3 orders of magnitude (which occur when assuming purely photonic emission), this paper accounts for the entire instantaneous Hawking spectrum. Additionally shown is that 45% of the Hawking power and 55-58% of the Hawking flux are emitted on inaccessible channels. Based on the accessible Hawking spectrum, the acceleration curves of a SK-powered starship, in which the Hawking radiation is incident upon a fully-absorbing inertial plate, are determined.

11:35am Presentation 5: Gerald Cleaver, “The Quirks of Quark Engines”

The Quirks of Quark Engines

Dr. Cleaver earned his Ph.D. in string theory and cosmology from Caltech in 1993. His dissertation advisor was John H. Schwarz, one of the founders of string theory. Cleaver is a Professor of Physics at Baylor University and is head of the Early Universe Cosmology and Strings (EUCOS) division of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). Cleaver’s research specialty is superstring phenomenology and he has over 70 peer-reviewed publications in the field. Cleaver was the dissertation advisor for Dr. Richard Obousy, President and Co-Founder of Icarus Interstellar. Together they proposed a theoretical string theory realization of Alcubierre’s warp drive effect. Cleaver is a member of Icarus Interstellar and its Project XP4 group.

Abstract of Dr. Cleaver’s presentation:
Matter/antimatter (MAM)-based propulsion systems are viable options for both intrasolar system and interstellar travel. For example, the feasibility and functionality of on-board Schwinger electron-positron pair production via high power lasers has received growing interest lately. In this talk an alternate in-situ MAM production method will be discussed. Production of quark-antiquark pairs via interaction of parallel electric and magnetic fields associated with chiral symmetry breaking will be reviewed. Emphasis will be placed on the physics involved in the quark pair production and in the basic design of a related propulsion system. Quark pair production rates as a function of electric and magnetic field strengths will be presented.

12:00am Presentation 6: Lance Williams, “Rise of the Scalar Field, and its Implications for Interstellar Travel”

Back to the Future: Rise of the Scalar Field, and its Implications for Interstellar Travel:

The recent experimental confirmation of the Higgs boson, the last piece of the standard model of particle physics, is also the discovery of the first quantum scalar field. The Higgs field joins, however, 3 other scalar fields now thought to exist in our universe. Yet the Higgs field is the only one among them whose nature is well-understood; the other 3 remain mysterious new forces operating on the scale of galaxies. At this turning point in physics, let us assess the role of scalar fields in physical law; assess what we know about scalar fields operating in our universe, and their implications for interstellar travel. We look back to the lessons of physics before the quantum revolution, lessons lost from physics at a time when scalar fields seemed implausible and quantum gravity seemed imminent. We discover that scalar fields offer the promise of the electromagnetic control of spacetime and gravity, and we consider to what extent the already discovered scalar fields can be understood in those terms.

12:25pm Lunch

1:15pm Keynote: Rachel Armstrong, “Project Persephone”

Project Persephone

Project Persephone is charged with the design and implementation of a giant natural computer that will form the ‘living’ interior to the Icarus Interstellar worldship, which constitutes a kind of ‘space’ Nature. Yet, her ideas are not just ‘black sky’ thinking but also address the way that we currently live and produces real world models and prototypes to address significant challenges such as, resource shortages within our megacities, which share Persephone’s challenges in surviving effectively ‘closed’ systems.

Rather than presupposing what the needs of an interstellar civilization may be within this system, which will experience its own physical and chemical rhythms, Persephone is approaching the idea of a living space within a worldship by taking a bottom-up approach to its construction. Yet, she is not by starting with bricks and mortar, but with designing, developing and producing soils that are essential for any truly ‘sustainable’ environment. Indeed, all civilizations are founded on soils, as they are the technology that spontaneously recycles materials and creates fertile conditions in which life may thrive. By understanding the basic physical and chemical interactions that may spontaneously form systems that shape the flow of matter through the worldship, it may be possible to create events within them such as, growth and decomposition, around which human activity can thrive. As these systems develop it may be possible to construct architectures and even cities that thrive around these spontaneous events.

Project Persephone also aims to address an even a deeper issue, which relates to the way we imagine reality. In 1948 Erwin Schrodinger noted that the characteristic of life is that it resists the decay towards entropic equilibrium. This observation is profoundly important when thinking about the design of an environment for living things, as it requires us to consider far-from equilibrium conditions in the fabrication of soils. Persephone is also imagined as an ‘open’ system to resist entropic decay. Perhaps she may ‘feed’ on space ‘junk’, asteroids and even the electromagnetic spectrum, so that the living system that supports her interstellar crew does not grind to an energetic halt. Yet how do we begin to resolve these challenges – to keep her system open – or even design and engineer with material flows and networks of metabolic interactions? Working with open, non-equilibrium systems flies in the face of all our design efforts to history, because when we design, we assume that our design substrates are closed and their surroundings are at equilibrium, so we can make a world of composed of objects. However, such assumptions are not suitable for a living interior, as Schrodinger noted, an equilibrium state is not compatible with life.

Persephone’s international community – a network of world-leading architects, designers, engineers, sociologists, creative and scientists – is exploring how to navigate these challenges through the community, which builds tools and methods to deal with a constantly evolving reality.

Persephone does not expect these challenges to be solved by any one particular team, or indeed any particular generation and is looking to work with all the Icarus Interstellar group’s project leaders and extend her network to multiple collaborators, across many disciplines and age groups as an open network of volunteers, makers and visionaries.

Persephone is looking forward to participating in Icarus Interstellar’s international community, which is coming together for the first time in person, to talk about such issues at the Starship Congress, which will be the start of many challenging conversations that will ultimately result in taking the first real steps towards becoming an interstellar civilization.

2:00pm Presentation 7: Ken Roy, “Shell Worlds: an Approach to Terraforming Small Rocky Worlds”

The Shell World Approach to Terraforming Small Planets and Large Moons:

When humanity travels to the stars we will probably find that Earth-type worlds are very, very rare, that Earth-sized planets in a star’s habitable zone suitable for traditional terraforming are more common, but that Mars-type worlds are ubiquitous. Terraforming Mars-type worlds may be the only option for future human colonists to create a terrestrial-type home. The shell world approach requires construction of an engineered shell around the planet to contain (and partially replace) an atmosphere. This shell also provides radiation protection as well as additional real estate. Lighting under the shell must be artificial but permits Earth-like conditions to be simulated, regardless of the type of star that the world orbits. The shell also allows for the control of the planet’s temperature, making the distance from its star and location with respect to the star’s habitable zone irrelevant. This approach could be applied to Mars, the Earth’s moon, and perhaps Mercury within our own solar system. The structural stresses and stability of the shell with respect to the central body will be discussed. These would be small worlds, not merely large habitats, stable across millennia. Each shell world would contain a full, self-sustaining ecology based entirely on life imported from Earth. This approach allows for the terraforming of planets around stars not usually considered suitable for colonization such as Red Dwarfs, Brown Dwarfs, and even lone orphan planets far distant from any star.

2:25pm Presentation 8: Sheryl Bishop, “Odyssey: Global Personality Test for Crewing a Generation-Starship”

2:50pm Break

3:00pm Presentation 9: Thomas Hair, “Radio Transients & Base Rate Bias: Bayesian Argument for Conservatism”

3:25pm Presentation 10: Al Jackson, “Extreme SETI”

3:50pm Presentation 11: A. Caminoa & G. Gaviraghi, “Code of Ethics for Alien Encounters”

4:15pm Break | Description of Evening Event
4:30pm STARSHIP CONGRESS: Long-Term Questions
6:00pm Dinner (Individual)
8:00pm Event 3a | Peter Garretson: “Space – A Billion Year Plan for Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness”

It isn’t enough just to plan for two or 20, or even the fabled Chinese 100 year periods. We need to be thinking and planning on the order of billions of years. Our civilization needs inter-generational plans and goals that span as far out as we can forecast significant events.

For this discussion, I define a “significant event” as an event about which we have foreknowledge and which will fundamentally change our planning assumptions.

For instance, the most significant near-term external problem we can forecast is that we have only about one billion years before the Earth becomes uninhabitable. Somewhere around that time, our Sun will have expanded and start boiling away our oceans. Truly, as the great space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky foresaw, “Unless mankind leaves the Earth, it will surely die there.”

It is a nasty reality that sometimes the solutions to significant problems take time, and last-minute crash programs can fail. It would be a darn shame to end life’s two billion year run (and humanity’s eight million year run) prematurely because of a lack of planning.

Moving everyone and everything we value off Earth is likely to take some time. The same is likely to be true for any of the alternatives: uploading most of us to exist “in-silico,” putting a sunshade between Earth and the Sun, moving the Earth, or attempting to control the Sun.

It is often a good idea to have at least a cadre of people thinking well in advance about the problem, and designing solutions.

8:45pm Event 3b | “Dream of Starships” with Hailey Bright

Starship Congress Day 2 video, schedule and abstracts

The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.

Day 2 focused on what can be accomplished on a timescale to begin 20 years from now, out to the next 50 years. Areas of interest will include fusion rockets, antimatter rockets, future economics, colonizing and populating the solar system, asteroid mining, and commercialization of space. Other possible topics include:

The effect of changing international politics on the continued funding and staffing of a century-long mission.

Protection of a probe against future, unknown cyber attack, from factions hostile to space-faring on earth.

The effect of population demographics on the time profile of space travel.

Day 2 – Interstellar This Lifetime (20 – 50 years) | Friday August 16th, 2013

8:30am Coffee
8:45am Introduction to Day 2
9:00am Keynote: Michael Minovitch, “Interstellar Space Travel with Reasonable Round-trip Travel Times”

Mathematician Dr. Michael A. Minovitch was a keynote speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress, with a talk titled “On the Possibility of Achieving Interstellar Space Travel at Near Optical Velocities”.

A scholar, mathematician, physicist, inventor, and a contributor to space travel, Dr. Michael A. Minovitch is revered as a true “planetary pioneer”, the man who opened up the solar system to exploration with instrumented spacecraft via his invention of gravity propelled interplanetary space travel, and solving the seemingly impossible mathematical problem of computing the trajectories. Dr. Minovitch showed that spacecraft trajectories could be designed such that they could gain velocity by travelling close to a planet orbiting the sun. This gravity assist technique was developed in the early 1960s when he was a UCLA graduate student working summers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

To date, Dr. Minovitch has approximately 50 US and foreign patents on his inventions with several more still pending. In 1991, Dr. Minovitch was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics for his invention of gravity propelled interplanetary space travel. In 1992 he was interviewed for the PBS television series “Space Age”, Episode 3 – The Unexpected Universe, where he described his invention.

For more information on Dr. Minovitch and his work, visit

Starship Congress Day 1 part 2 video, schedule and abstracts

Day 1 – Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years) | Thursday August 15th, 2013

The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.

Part 2 of Day 1

1:15pm Keynote: Pavel Tsvetkov, “Direct Fission Fragment Energy Conversion for Near-Term Interstellar Exploration”

Nuclear engineer Dr. Pavel Tsvetkov has been announced as a keynote speaker for Icarus Interstellar’s 2013 Starship Congress. His talk will focus on the fission-fragment rocket, a rocket engine design that directly harnesses hot nuclear fission products for thrust, rather than using a separate fluid as working mass.

Starship Congress Day 1 part 3 video, schedule and abstracts

Day 1 – Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years) | Thursday August 15th, 2013

The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.

Part 3 Day 1
3:00pm Presentation 8: Philip Lubin, “DE-STAR – Beamed Relativistic Propulsion”

DE-STAR: A Planetary Defense and Exploration System & Beamed Power for Relativistic Propulsion:

We propose an orbital planetary defense system that is also capable of beamed power propulsion allowing relativistic spacecraft speeds using existing technologies. While designed to heat the surface of potentially hazardous objects to the evaporation point to mitigate asteroid threats the system is inherently multi functional with one mode being relativistic beam spacecraft propulsion. The system is called DE-STAR for Directed Energy Solar Targeting of Asteroids and exploRation. DE-STAR is a proposed orbital platform that is a modular phased array of lasers, powered by the sun. Modular design allows for incremental development, test and initial deployment, lowering cost, minimizing risk and allowing for technological co-development, leading eventually to an orbiting structure that could be erected in stages. The main objective of DE-STAR would be to use the focused directed energy to raise the surface spot temperature of an asteroid to over 3000K, allowing direct evaporation of all known substances. The same system is also capable of propelling spacecraft to relativistic speeds to allow rapid interplanetary travel and relativistic interstellar probes. Our baseline system is a DE-STAR 4 (10km sized array) system which allows for asteroid engagement starting beyond 1AU (mean Earth-Sun distance) with a spot of 30 m at 1 AU. This system is capable of propelling a 10^2, 10^3, 10^4 kg spacecraft to 1 AU in 3,10,30 days with speeds of about 0.4% the speed of light when used in its “photon rail gun mode”. The same system will propel a 10^2 kg probe to 2% the speed of light when propelling a spacecraft out to 30 AU after which the spacecraft will coast. Such speeds exceed the galactic escape speed. Smaller systems are also extremely useful and can be built now. For example, a DE-STAR 1 (10m size array) would be capable of evaporating space debris at 10^4 km (~ diam of Earth) while a DE-STAR 2 could diverting volatile-laden asteroids 100m in diameter by initiating engagement at ~0.01-0.5AU. The phased array configuration is capable of creating multiple beams, so a single DE-STAR of sufficient size could engage several threats simultaneously or propelling several spacecraft. A DE-STAR could also provide power to ion propulsion systems, providing both a means of acceleration on the outbound leg, and deceleration for orbit insertion by rotating the spacecraft and using mirrors to divert the DE-STAR beam into the ion generation cavity. There are a number of other applications as well including SPS for down linking power to the Earth via millimeter or microwave. A larger system such as a DE-STAR 6 system could propel a 10^4 kg spacecraft to near the speed of light allowing for interstellar probes. There are a number of other applications for the system. While decidedly futuristic in its outlook many of the core technologies now exist and small systems can be built to test the basic concepts as the technology improves. In this talk we will review the basic issues related to the potential for standoff protection and propulsion as well as the key technologies required for implementation

Starship Congress Day 1 part 1 video, schedule and abstracts

Day 1 – Interstellar Now (Next 20 Years) | Thursday August 15th, 2013

The Icarus Interstellar Starship Congress aims to bring together the interstellar community to foster discussion and generate tangible action. Our ambition is to move humanity toward becoming an interstellar civilization, with a broad campaign of exploration and migration to begin by the year 2100.

Day 1 part 1 video up to about 3 hours and 39 minutes

8:00am Registration Open | Coffee
9:00am Introduction to Day 1
9:15am Keynote: Jim Benford, “Sail Ships”

Sailships abstract:

Microwave and laser-propelled sails are a new class of spacecraft using acceleration by photon reflection. It is the only method of interstellar flight that has no physics issues. Laboratory demonstrations of basic features of beam-driven propulsion, flight, stability (‘beam-riding’), and induced spin, have been completed in the last decade, primarily in the microwave. It offers much lower cost probes after a substantial investment in the launcher. Engineering issues are being addressed by other applications: fusion (microwave, millimeter and laser sources) and astronomy (large aperture antennas). There are many candidate sail materials: carbon nanotubes and microtrusses, beryllium, graphene, etc. Cost of interstellar sailships is very high, driven by current costs for radiation source, antennas and especially electrical power. Cost can be used to constrain design parameters to estimate system power, aperture and elements of capital and operating cost, including economies of scale. We present several starship point concepts. The high speeds necessary for fast interstellar missions make the operating cost exceed the capital cost.

10:00am Presentation 1: Les Johnson, “Status of Solar Sail Propulsion: Sneaking up on an Interstellar Capability”

Current Status of Solar Sail Propulsion: Sneaking up on an Interstellar Capability:

Solar Sail propulsion has been validated in space (IKAROS, 2010) and several more solar-sail propelled spacecraft will soon be flown. Solar sails reflect sunlight to achieve thrust, thus eliminating the need for costly and often very-heavy fuel. Such “propellantless” propulsion will enable whole new classes of space science and exploration missions previously not considered possible due to the propulsive-intense maneuvers and operations required. Solar Sail Propulsion (SSP) is an enabling technology for interstellar missions and their precursors, capable of providing rapid trip times and potentially allowing 250 – 1000 AU interstellar precursor missions to be launched within the next quarter century. SSP is a high-priority new technology within The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and several potential future space missions have been identified that will require it. Small and mid-sized technology demonstration missions using solar sails have flown or will soon fly in space. Multiple mission concept studies have been performed to determine the system level SSP requirements for their implementation and, subsequently, to drive the content of relevant technology programs. The status of SSP technology and potential future missions, and their relevance to future interstellar missions will be described.

Eric Davies reviews wormholes and faster than light travel theories and the near term possibility of generating huge amounts of negative energy

Presentation : Eric Davis, “Faster-Than-Light Space Warps: What’s It All About?”

From 59 minutes to 1 hour and 31 minutes

Eric Davis indicated there is hope for generating large amounts of negative energy.
A parabolic cylindrical mirrors can generate negative energy on the focal line by focusing vacuum fluctuations.
This was work by Larry Ford at Tufts University.
This could generation -10^30 joules per cubic meter energy density.

Arxiv publications by LH Ford

Arxiv - Negative Energy Seen By Accelerated Observers by LH Ford (Lawrence Ford) 26 pages

Arxiv - Focusing Vacuum Fluctuations II

August 23, 2013

Update on Sonny Whites Warp Field Experiments

Interstellar travel breakthrough propulsion concepts for 50 or more years in the future at the 2013 Icarus Interstellar Congress, dated the last Saturday August 17th 2013:

A summary of the day from to zero minutes to 4 minutes.
Looking at spacewaps, wormholes, megascale spacetime engineering, Kardashev level 2 energy

Nothing from 4 minutes to 12 minutes
13:00-58:00 minutes of the video - Sonny White.

09:00am Keynote: Sonny White, “Warp Field Physics: an Update”
09:45am Presentation 1: Eric Davis, “Faster-Than-Light Space Warps: What’s It All About?”
10:10am Presentation 2: Hal Puthoff, “Engineering the Spacetime Metric for Interstellar Flight”
10:45am Presentation 3: Marc Millis, “Transgalactic Travel Guide” & “From Sci-Fi to Sci-Method – Space Drives”
11:10am Presentation 4: Jeff Lee, “Singularity Propulsion – Acceleration of a Schwarzschild Kugelblitz Starship”
11:35am Presentation 5: Gerald Cleaver, “The Quirks of Quark Engines”
12:00am Presentation 6: Lance Williams, “Rise of the Scalar Field, and its Implications for Interstellar Travel”

Sonny White Warp Update

Sonny White is building on work by a Miguel Alcubierre who estimated that it would be possible to achieve this if an object had negative mass. The early work indicated a Jupiter mass or more of exotic matter was needed.

Dr White check the sensitivity
* Change the topology from a thin wedding band to fat life saver and this greater lowers the energy needed
* oscillate the intensity

Combine changing the shape of the warp bubble and oscillating its intensity, it was possible to reduce the amount of energy that would be required to about the size of a Voyager spacecraft. This was not a prediction for the warp technology but check the sensitivity of the equations.

The project, which he has named Eagleworks, uses a high-voltage capacitor ring that is charged up and discharged as a laser is fired through the centre.

Dr White is looking for changes in the way the light passes through it that may indicate the photons have passed through a warp bubble.
Trying to get the test setup to detect changes that are one one-hundedth to one one thousands of the wavelength of light or less.

Super-organs: building body parts better than nature

Synthetic DNA circuits inserted into human stem cells could soon allow us to build new organs with unprecedented precision and speed. The circuits can be designed on a computer and assembled from ready-made parts ordered online. The technique could prove an efficient way of making organs for transplant without the worry of rejection, and raises the tantalising possibility that it might one day be possible to upgrade the organs we were born with. Human cells have already been used to create a tiny liver and a set of neurons.

"At the moment, the aim is to normalise cells, but in future, enhancement has to be on the menu," says Chris Mason, a professor of regenerative medicine at University College London, who wasn't involved in the work.

Oxford Journal Nucleic Acids Research - Rapid, modular and reliable construction of complex mammalian gene circuits

NASA is looking at pulsed fusion propulsion

Nasa Scientist Dr Rob Adams speaks about Pulsed Fusion Propulsion, dense plasma focus fusion, z pinch fusion and the possibilities of high density compression of fusion fuels.

NAIC - Pulsed Fission-Fusion (PuFF) Propulsion System

Fission-ignited fusion systems have been operational – in weapon form – since the 1950’s. Leveraging insights gained from the weapons physics program, a Z-Pinch device could be used to ignite a thermonuclear deuterium trigger. The fusion neutrons will induce fission reaction in a surrounding uranium or thorium liner, releasing sufficient energy to further confine and heat the fusion plasma. The combined energy release from fission and fusion would then be directed using a magnetic nozzle to produce useful thrust. This type of concept could provide the efficiency of open cycle fusion propulsion devices with the relative small size and simplicity of fission systems; and would provide a radical improvement in our ability to explore destinations across the solar system and beyond. This proposal is modified version of last year’s proposal - addressing issues raised during that evaluation.

August 22, 2013

Holy Bad Choices ! Ben Affleck will be Batman

Ben Affleck will replace Christian Bale as Batman in the highly anticipated Batman-Superman movie that's scheduled to be released on July 17, 2015.

So they went two years older than Christian Bale and with an actor who proved he cannot convincingly run back in 2003 with the Daredevil movie.

Ben will be about 42 when the movie is filming.

Statites close to the Sun

Statites close to the sun could intercept large amounts of solar energy without having a large size. The concentrated solar energy could be directed to power various space applications. This might be done primarily with passive structures instead of converting from photons to electricity or microwaves for beaming. Very large lens and terawatt and petawatt laser beams have been proposed for pushing solar sails for interstellar travel. Achieving the capabilities of that level of beams and lens might be easier by going for statites that are close to the sun. Robert Forward had a 50,000 kilometer diameter lens in his proposed architecture for the starwisp. Geoffrey Landis did propose revised designs which would have far smaller lens and lower power requirements. Statites close to the sun could enable higher power levels as part of architecture of a more manageable size.

Bolonkin has a paper where he discusses the forces on a solar sail that passes very near the sun. He discusses the maximum speed for a solar sail based on those forces while surviving the heat. A Statite would be mirrored solar sail that balances the gravity and light pressure to stay in one position relative to the sun.

The solar radiation pressure is very small 6.7 Newtons per gigawatt. That equals 9.12 X 10^-6 N/m2 at Earth's orbit (1 AU - Astronomic Unit = 150 million km) and decreases by the square of the distance from the sun. However, the solar light pressure significantly increases near sun and not far above it can reach 0.2 - 0.35 (up o.4 on Solar surface) N/m2.

The pressure of light equals P = 2E/c (where E is energy of radiation, c is light speed (c = 3X10^8 m/s)). The solar light energy at Earth's orbit equals 1.4 kW/m2, but near a solar surface it reaches up to 64x10^3 kW/m2
(it increases 47 thousand time!). As the result the light pressure jumps up to 0.4 N/m2.

Statites near the sun
- materials need to be able withstand high temperature
- need to have mirror surface for the purpose of guiding the light that is not used for keeping position

From Wikipedia the surface area of the sun
•7.5*10^13 square km

The energy from the sun 3.83 X10^26 watts

Therefore at the surface of the sun 5.1 trillion watts per square kilometer

At 1.5 solar radii from the sun, it would take 16 square kilometers to intercept 5.1 trillion terawatts.

Japanese working on Artificial Intelligence to pass Tokyo University Entrance Exam

At Japan’s National Institute of Informatics (NII), in Tokyo, a research team is trying to create an artificial intelligence program that has enough smarts to pass Japan’s most rigorous entrance exams. The AI will start by taking the standardized test administered to all secondary school students; once it masters that test, it will move on to the more difficult University of Tokyo exam.

“Passing the exam is not really an important research issue, but setting a concrete goal is useful,” says Noriko Arai, the team leader and a professor at NII. And by having the AI answer real questions from the exams, “we can compare the current state-of-the-art AI technology with 18-year-old students,” she says. The latest results show that her protégé is coming along well in subjects like history and reading comprehension.

Research activities have been conducted with two specific benchmarks, to achieve high marks on the National Center Test for University Admissions by 2016, and to pass the entrance examination for the University of Tokyo by 2021.

This is different from the IBM Watson program because there is more reading and reading comprehension involved. The last part also involves writing essays.

Technology companies partnering to bring internet access to 5 billion people

Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm and Samsung are partnering to bring internet access to the remaining 5 billion people.

Today, only 2.7 billion people – just over one-third of the world's population -- have access to the internet. Internet adoption is growing by less than 9% each year, which is slow considering how early we are in its development.

The goal of is to make internet access available to the two-thirds of the world who are not yet connected, and to bring the same opportunities to everyone that the connected third of the world has today. will focus on three key challenges in developing countries:

Making access affordable: Partners will collaborate to develop and adopt technologies that make mobile connectivity more affordable and decrease the cost of delivering data to people worldwide. Potential projects include collaborations to develop lower-cost, higher-quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities. Mobile operators will play a central role in this effort by driving initiatives that benefit the entire ecosystem.

Using data more efficiently: Partners will invest in tools that dramatically reduce the amount of data required to use most apps and internet experiences. Potential projects include developing data compression tools, enhancing network capabilities to more efficiently handle data, building systems to cache data efficiently and creating frameworks for apps to reduce data usage.

August 21, 2013

Tesla Model S Achieves Best Safety Rating of Any Car Ever Tested with 5.4 stars

Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Tesla Model S a 5-star safety rating, not just overall, but in every subcategory without exception. Approximately one percent of all cars tested by the federal government achieve 5 stars across the board. NHTSA does not publish a star rating above 5, however safety levels better than 5 stars are captured in the overall Vehicle Safety Score (VSS) provided to manufacturers, where the Model S achieved a new combined record of 5.4 stars.

Cloud Cities could float over Venus

Geoffrey Landis has proposed aerostat habitats followed by floating cities in the atmosphere of Venus. It is based on the concept that breathable air (21:79 Oxygen/Nitrogen mixture) is a lifting gas in the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere, with over 60% of the lifting power that helium has on Earth. In effect, a balloon full of human-breathable air would sustain itself and extra weight (such as a colony) in midair. At an altitude of 50 kilometers (31 mi) above Venusian surface, the environment is the most Earth-like in the solar system – a pressure of approximately 1 bar and temperatures in the 0°C–50°C range. Because there is not a significant pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the breathable-air balloon, any rips or tears would cause gases to diffuse at normal atmospheric mixing rates rather than an explosive decompression, giving time to repair any such damages. In addition, humans would not require pressurized suits when outside, merely air to breathe, protection from the acidic rain and on some occasions low level protection against heat. Alternatively, two-part domes could contain a lifting gas like hydrogen or helium (extractable from the atmosphere) to allow a higher mass density.

At the top of the clouds the wind speed on Venus reaches up to 95 m/s (approximately 212 mph), circling the planet approximately every four Earth days in a phenomenon known as "super-rotation". Colonies floating in this region could therefore have a much shorter day length by remaining untethered to the ground and moving with the atmosphere. Allowing a colony to move freely would also reduce structural stress from the wind.

Stratosolar now a straight photovoltaic system halfway between space based and desert solar

Desert based solar power has energy utilization of 25% versus 15% for average solar power in Europe. Space based solar power can be considered To have 130% of earth based solar power utilization. There is more solar insolation in space and it is available at all times. However, microwave or laser transmission reduces the power delivered from space in half to about 65%. Stratosphere based solar power can 50% utilization with solar tracking and 40% without tracking.

StratoSolar PV reduces the average cost of current PV electricity by a factor of three.  In energy, a factor of three is of enormous consequence. Most energy technologies have no technological road-map that will reduce their costs.  Almost all technologies are increasing in cost. With fossil fuels, the fuel costs are volatile and can temporarily drop, but the trend is inevitably to higher costs. StratoSolar's tripling of average PV effectiveness makes today’s PV technology immediately viable and cost effective without subsidy.  In addition, StratoSolar PV technology avoids other costs associated with the intermittent nature of both wind and solar power. It does not need spinning backup generation. It does not need massive re-engineering of the electricity grid to transport electricity thousands of kilometers from where it is abundant to where it is needed. At the current small scale of PV deployment these issues are ignored. However, as wind power demonstrates, when an intermittent energy source approaches 20% of the grid the additional costs are high, matching or exceeding the cost of generation. Even if PV electricity generation were cost competitive today, the financial costs and risks associated with these two constraints (indeterminacy and geography)  would severely limit the deployment of ground-based PV.  In addition, StratoSolar  PV is an affordable alternative for northern cloudy locations like Germany and Japan where PV is unlikely to ever be viable without subsidy.

Novartis gets FDA fast track for treatment against severe muscle wasting with monoclonal that blocks myostatin and activin

Novartis announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted breakthrough therapy designation to BYM338 for sporadic inclusion body myositis (sIBM).

Breakthrough therapy designation was created by the FDA to expedite the development and review of new drugs for serious or life-threatening conditions. This designation is based on the results of a Phase II proof-of-concept study that showed BYM338 substantially benefited patients with sIBM compared to placebo. The results of this study will be presented at the American Neurological Association meeting on October 14 and is expected to be published in a major medical journal later this year.

BYM338 (bimagrumab) is a novel, fully human monoclonal antibody developed to treat pathological muscle loss and weakness. BYM338 was developed by the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), in collaboration with Morphosys, whose HuCAL library was used to identify the antibody. BYM338 binds with high affinity to type II activin receptors, preventing natural ligands from binding, including myostatin and activin. BYM338 stimulates muscle growth by blocking signaling from these inhibitory molecules.

Myostatin inhibition can occur naturally in about one person in a million. People and animals with myostatin inhibition are naturally extremely muscular. Myostatin inhibition can be four times more effective than steroids for promoting muscle growth.

In addition to being developed for sIBM, BYM338 is in clinical development for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer cachexia, sarcopenia and in mechanically ventilated patients. BYM338 is administered by intravenous infusion.

sIBM is a rare yet potentially life-threatening muscle-wasting condition. Patients who have the disease can gradually lose the ability to walk, experience falls and injuries, lose hand function, and have swallowing difficulties. There are no currently approved, (or established), treatment options for sIBM.

Towards an exercise pill for humans with a drug that boosts muscle and running endurance by 50%

The drug candidate, SR9009, is one of a pair of compounds developed in the laboratory of TSRI (The Scripps Research Institute) Professor Thomas Burris which reduced obesity in animal models. The compounds affect the core biological clock, which synchronizes the rhythm of the body’s activity with the 24-hour cycle of day and night.

The compounds work by binding to one of the body’s natural molecules called Rev-erbα, which influences lipid and glucose metabolism in the liver, the production of fat-storing cells and the response of macrophages (cells that remove dying or dead cells) during inflammation.

In the new study, a team led by scientists at the Institut Pasteur de Lille in France demonstrated that mice lacking Rev-erbα had decreased skeletal muscle metabolic activity and running capacity. Burris’ group showed that activation of Rev-erbα with SR9009 led to increased metabolic activity in skeletal muscle in both culture and in mice. The treated mice had a 50 percent increase in running capacity, measured by both time and distance.

“The animals actually get muscles like an athlete who has been training,” said Burris. “The pattern of gene expression after treatment with SR9009 is that of an oxidative-type muscle— again, just like an athlete.”

The authors of the new study suggest that Rev-erbα affects muscle cells by promoting both the creation of new mitochondria (often referred to as the “power plants” of the cell) and the clearance of those mitochondria that are defective.

If this can works in human it will anble new therapies for obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. It could also help people with severe arthritis, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other conditions that restrict the ability to exercise.

(a) Western blot analysis of Rev-erb-α protein levels in mouse muscles; actin was used as control. Qua, quadriceps; Sol, soleus; Gas, gastrocnemius; EDL, extensor digitorum longus; Dia, diaphragm; TA, tibialis anterior

Nature Medicine - Rev-erb-α modulates skeletal muscle oxidative capacity by regulating mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy

Interstellar Solar sail effort

The first Starship Congress conference session was devoted to solar sails, leading off with Jim Benford’s keynote, followed by Les Johnson, who described current and near-term work. Right now the only propulsion method that will get us to interstellar velocities is the sail, and even then we’re talking no more than a couple of hundred kilometers per second.

Benford described a series of experiments he and his brother Greg made on beamed propulsion back in the year 2000. The researchers were working with a carbon fiber mat shaped into a small sail with a thickness of less than 1 millimeter.

Jim Benford is organizing Project Forward, named after the legendary Robert Forward, as an Icarus Interstellar effort to further refine the interstellar beamed sail concept. Asked to name the biggest problem areas for sails, the group came up with several, but at the top of the list was deceleration. How do you slow a beamed sail down when it arrives at its target? Forward proposed staged solar sails and others believe in magnetic sail braking.

Carbon fiber is ideal for sail work because when you put a microwave beam on the sail the material absorbs energy and begins to heat. A sail made of aluminum would begin to melt as you reach about 900 K, limiting possible accelerations, but carbon fiber has a low areal density (about 8 grams per square meter in the material the Benfords used) and a microwave reflectivity approaching 90 percent. The material is actually a carbon-carbon microtruss, meaning a core of carbon fibers is fused to a textured outer surface. With carbon nanotubes woven into the material, this microtruss is capable of temperatures up to 3000 K, at which point it doesn’t melt but sublimes, going from solid to gas with no intervening liquid state.

Working with a sail in an Earth-bound laboratory means you have to achieve an acceleration of one g just to lift off, but the Benfords were able to get up to 10 gs in these experiments, using a wavelength of about 3 centimeters and a pulse duration of 0.2 seconds.

August 20, 2013

Affordable Self Driving cars will be technologically solved by about 2020 and will become globally dominant as fast as the laws and regulations will allow

Navigant Research forecasts that vehicles with autonomous driving modes will gradually gain traction in the market over the coming two decades, from about 4% of the global light-duty vehicle market in 2025, rising to roughly 41% in 2030 and 75% by 2035—about 95.4 million units annually by then.

Basically it will be like a more regulated version of the transition from dumb feature phones to smartphones. This transition has taken about two decades. This is counting the time from the mid-1990s with the first Palm and Nokia smartphones and then the blackberry. The huge success of the iPhone in 2007 followed by the Android. The cost to transition to self driving cars will be made faster more affordable with cameras and electronics that only cost a few hundred dollars or even $100-150. The Oxford Mobile Robotics Group (MRG team) sees an immediate future in production cars modified for autonomous driving only part of the time on frequently driven routes. They estimate that the cost of the system can be brought down from its current £5,000 ($7700) to only £100 (US$155).

Understanding regeneration at the molecular and genetic level could enable better wound healing and regeneration in humans

In recent years, Reddien’s lab has identified dozens of genes involved in planarian regeneration. Many of these are related to human genes, and some are active in response to human injuries. “It’s my hope that our continued work will enhance our understanding of what makes some animals great at regeneration and others not as good,” he says.

Reddien has discovered dozens of genes that play key roles in regeneration, whether initiating the process or helping to determine which body part needs to be replaced. One gene that his lab investigated, known as notum, interacts with a cell-communication system called the Wnt signaling pathway to control whether an animal regrows a head or a tail.

Reddien also found that adult planarians maintain a population of pluripotent stem cells, known as clonogenic neoblasts, that can grow into any type of tissue. These cells are key to tissue regeneration, and his lab has identified genes that give these cells their regenerative potential.

“This is the kind of science you dream of when you’re a kid,” Reddien says. “We’re cutting off animals’ heads and figuring out how they regrow new ones at a molecular level. It’s up to us to develop the methods we need to solve these problems because it’s such a new field. It’s just been a real adventure and that’s something I’m greatly drawn to in science.”

Anti-Aging with drugs hopes to achieve life extension to 120 years and beyond

Fighting aging has excellent coverage of antiaging research. They have pointed out a few recent overviews of the state and prospects of life extension using metabolic modification using drugs. Fighting aging and Aubrey de Grey (SENS) doubt that metabolic modification will yield significant life extension results. However there could be some life extension and health improvements and others like David Sinclair are more optimistic.

David Sinclair of Sirtris leads research on a few lines of calorie restriction mimetic drug development based on sirtuins.

David Sinclair believes we can expect to see people live to 120 and beyond within our lifetime. Harvard University's Professor David Sinclair is working on a 'cure for ageing' and believes modern medicine can significantly extend the human lifespan. "I think there will be a world where people can look forward to living at least beyond 100, and it will be not uncommon where people can live to 120.

There are drugs already in clinical trials and, so far, they seem to be safe and showing early signs of success. "Instead of just lowering your cholesterol this pill would prevent Alzheimer's disease, lung diseases, bowel diseases, dementia, a whole list of diseases... That's what we're able to do in mice so far. The question is: can we do that in people, and how soon?

Quantum Computers, Artificial Intelligence and the Singularity

Geordie Rose, CTO of Dwave Systems is interviewed at Singularity 1 on 1.

Geordie discusses

* the founding of D-Wave
* what D-Wave is all about
* superconducting processors
* quantum computers
* Rose’s Law (doubling qubits every year)
* the multiverse
* the Singularity
* artificial intelligence

1:08-1:12 The unknown performance of the Dwave System quantum computer.
Adiabiatic quantum computers are more like the large hadron collider than a classical computer.
1:13-1:17 Why would someone spend $20 million on it vs a supercomputer.
Google and Lockheed engage with Dwave for many and get trust in the organization.
They see that there is rapid improvement with the performance.
The decision is that if Dwave can help them solve business and industry critical problems and
get an advantage over it and prevent falling behind in a critical area then the risk / reward
can fall in favor of working with Dwave.
The work with Google on machine learning and big data and Lockheed with complex system validation are areas where if they fell behind they could lose their core business.

Summary of Safety and Design of Molten Salt Reactors

Backup slide information from David LeBlanc presentation on Molten Salt Reactors at TEAC 5

What factors differentiate between various Molten Salt designs?
• R and D required and level of technological uncertainty
• Amount and type of startup fissile load and thus deployability
• Whether fission product removal is used and if so, its degree of difficulty
• Reactivity coefficients
• Degree of Proliferation Resistance

Advantages of all Molten Salt Reactors Safety

• No pressure vessel
• No chemical driving forces(steam build up or explosions, hydrogen production etc)
• Almost no volatile fission products in salt
– They are passively and continuously removed
– Both Cesium and Iodine stable within the salt
• No excess reactivity needed
– Even control rods are optional
• Very stable with instantly acting negative temperaturereactivity coefficients
• Passive Decay Heat removal

Fuel Cycle Costs for the major types of nuclear reactors

David Le Blanc's extra slides for his Molten Salt reactor talk had breakdowns of the fuel cycle costs for each of the major types of nuclear reactors.

LWR (Light Water Reactor) Fuel Cycle Costs
All assume 100$/kg Uranium and 150$/kg SWU (enrichment)
• Light Water Reactor(per Gwe)
• 20M$ Uranium(200 Tonnes, 100$/kg)
• 20M$ Enrichment
• 10M$ Fuel Fabrication
• Annual Fuel Cost 0.6 cents/kwh
• But must pay off initial fuel load
– 3 to 5 Tonnes U235 + Fabrication
– ~200M$ = 0.26 c/kwh (10% Discount Rate)
Total Fuel Cycle ~ 0.86 cents/kwh

Size of Heat Exchangers for different types of nuclear reactors

Molten Salt Reactor Research review and getting to an Integral Molten Salt Reactor demo reactor in 8 years

David LeBlanc of Terrestrial Energy makes a new presentation at the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference 2013.

He compares molten salt reactors.
He repeats that thorium vs uranium is not that important.

Many Design choices are possible.
* burner vs breeder reactors.
* Single fluid vs two fluid.
* Fast spectrum vs thermal.
* Denatured and not.

Le Blanc wants to make choices that will be approved faster and will be cheaper to develop
Every effort should be made to simplify and remove technological hurdles as well as proliferation and regulatory “whatifs”

LeBlanc argues that denatured single fluid thermal spectrum molten salt reactor is the fastest reactor possible for certification, and still offers many benefits over solid fuel reactors.

They use more heat exchanger volume to achieve higher energy density.
Oilsand developers can fund molten salt reactor development out of their pocket change.
One year for the detailed predesign exploration for the IMSR (integral molten salt reactor)
8 years to get the demo IMSR.

August 19, 2013

DARPA flying car transforming into Large Carrier Drone

Lockheed is changing their DARPA robotic flying hummer into a large robotic drone that can carry car sized objects

Besides carrying cars the carrier drone can also deliver 4000 or maybe even 6000 pound bombs.
Two or three carrier drones appear able to work together to lift longer and heavier payloads like 12000 or 18000 pound bombs or a truck or a shipping container.

The US daisy cutter bomb weighs about 15,000 pounds. It is an anti-personnel weapon and an intimidation weapon because of its very large lethal radius (variously reported as 300 to 900 feet/100 to 300 meters) combined with a visible flash and audible sound at long distances. It is one of the largest conventional weapons ever to be used, outweighed only by a few earth quake bombs, thermobaric bombs, and demolition (bunker buster) bombs.

Lockheed should have a full sized system ready for flight tests in 2015.

The production version of Transformer have a 250 mile range and a top speed of 200 knots. The ducted fans, will make safer and more efficient than a helicopter, and will be able to land in an area half the size that a helicopter with a similar payload would require. It's small enough that you can stick it on a trailer a drive it down a single lane road, making transportation relatively easy.

Russia plans for inflatable space station module and a large orbiting space based solar power system

Russia has designs for an inflatable space station module. Wrapped into multilayered synthetic skin instead of metal, the expandable module could be attached to the Russian part of the International Space Station and inflated like a beach ball, providing greater comfort for the crew and extra room for yet-to-be-disclosed experiments

Russian space web also has details of the russian inflatable space station module.

During 2012, RKK Energia evaluated two basic sizes of the inflatable module, which could be launched either on the Soyuz-2-1b rocket or on the Proton-M and Angara-A5 rockets.

During 2013 and 2014, RKK Energia and its contractors planned to build a one-third-scale prototype of the module for ground tests.

Institute for the Future Ten Year Forecast and Nextbigfuture

Bigelow Aerospace's inflatable space stations and future plans

Bigelow Aerospace is a private company developing inflatable space stations.

In 2007, Bigelow launched the Genesis II, which was their second experimental space habitat designed.

Genesis II was identical in size to Genesis I. It is a one-third scale of the full-size BA 330 model, with on-orbit measurements of 4.4 metres (14.4 ft) in length and 2.54 metres (8.3 ft) in diameter, with an interior habitable volume of 11.5 cubic metres (406.1 cu ft).

OpenFab: A Programmable Pipeline for Multi-Material Fabrication

3D printing hardware is rapidly scaling up to output continuous mixtures of multiple materials at increasing resolution over ever larger print volumes. This poses an enormous computational challenge: large high-resolution prints comprise trillions of voxels and petabytes of data and simply modeling and describing the input with spatially varying material mixtures at this scale is challenging. Existing 3D printing software is insufficient; in particular, most software is designed to support only a few million primitives, with discrete material choices per object.

MIT has developed OpenFab, a programmable pipeline for synthesis of multi-material 3D printed objects that is inspired by RenderMan and modern GPU pipelines. The pipeline supports procedural evaluation of geometric detail and material composition, using shader-like fablets, allowing models to be specified easily and efficiently. They describe a streaming architecture for OpenFab; only a small fraction of the final volume is stored in memory and output is fed to the printer with little startup delay. They demonstrate it on a variety of multi-material objects.

A procedurally-defined foam material makes the bunny and bear squishy. Color and squishiness vary procedurally over the models.

Openfab was presented at Siggraph 2013

Quantum diamond nanosensors measure temperature in living cells and will be used for measuring magnetic and electric fields and for compact atomic clocks

How do you take the temperature of a cell? The familiar thermometer from a doctor’s office is slightly too big considering the average human skin cell is only 30 millionths of a meter wide. But the capability is significant; developing the right technology to gauge and control the internal temperatures of cells and other nanospaces might open the door to a number of defense and medical applications: better thermal management of electronics, monitoring the structural integrity of high-performance materials, cell-specific treatment of disease and new tools for medical research.

A team of researchers working on DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR) program recently demonstrated sub-degree temperature measurement and control at the nanometer scale inside living cells.

Artist’s concept of researchers heating gold nanoparticles inside of a cell with a laser and monitoring diamond sensors to measure temperature. This image is not to scale. Credit: Steven H. Lee (

Nature - Nanometre-scale thermometry in a living cell

August 18, 2013

Saudi Arabia leaders and Egypts military will go all out to purge and suppress the Brotherhood because failure would mean their deaths

NPR thinks that there are three scenarios in Egypt but there is only one scenario.

1. Reconciliation between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood (I do not think this is possible)
2. Military Rule.
3. Civil War

2 and 3 and really one scenario of all out fighting and suppression until there is uncontested military rule.

This reuters analysis makes more sense.

In power, Mursi and his backers in the Brotherhood proved unable to collaborate with either Islamist allies or secular adversaries and fatally alienated an army they first tried to co-opt.

"The Brotherhood have committed political suicide. It will take them decades to recover ... because a significant number of Egyptians now mistrust them. Al-Ikhwan is a toxic brand now in Egypt and the region," said academic Fawaz Gerges, adding that the damage goes beyond Egypt to its affiliates in Tunisia, Jordan and Gaza, where the ruling Hamas evolved from the Brotherhood.

Deposed President Mohamed Mursi alienated all but a hard-core constituency by devoting his energy to seizing control of Egypt's institutions rather than implementing policies to revive its paralysed economy and heal political divisions, analysts say.

"I was surprised by the rapid fall of the Islamists," said Jamel Arfaoui, an analyst on Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring uprisings.

PJMedia also has information on while there will be a merciless purge of the Brotherhood

Saudi money is being given to the Egyptian military and advice to merciless crush the Brotherhood. Their advice will likely be adopted, both because the junta knows that death awaits them if they lose (2 Egyptian major generals and 2 brigadier generals, along with many colonels, have been assassinated by the Brothers in the current spasm), and because only the Saudis can foot the huge bill facing Egypt just to provide the basics for the people. Most of whom, to the evident surprise of Western leaders and journalists, seem inclined to support the junta (neighborhood militias have taken on the Brothers throughout the country, for example).

Memristor based self organizing adaptive neural network chip could speed image and video processing by 1000 times

Loosely inspired by a biological brain's approach to making sense of visual information, a University of Michigan researcher is leading a project to build alternative computer hardware that could process images and video 1,000 times faster with 10,000 times less power than today's systems—all without sacrificing accuracy.

DARPA has awarded up to $5.7 million to design and fabricate a computer chip based on so-called self-organizing, adaptive neural networks. So far, Lu has received $1.3 million to begin work on the project.

The networks will be made of conventional transistors and innovative components called memristors that perform both logic and memory functions. Memristors are resistors with memory—electronic devices that regulate electric current based on the history of the stimuli applied to them.

Because of their multitasking abilities, researchers say they could enable new computing platforms that can process a vast number of signals in parallel and are capable of advanced machine learning. Systems that utilize them could be much more efficient than conventional computers in handling "big data" tasks such as analyzing images and video.

Boeing thin disk solid state laser efficiently reach 30 kilowatts of power showing readiness for battlefield lasers

The Boeing Thin Disk Laser system integrates a series of high-power industrial lasers to generate one concentrated, high-energy beam, exceeded required thresholds for power and beam quality during a demonstration for the Department of Defense's Robust Electric Laser Initiative (RELI) effort.

The high-power, solid-state laser system output reached more than 30 kilowatts – nearly 30 percent more power than RELI requirements – while simultaneously measuring excellent efficiency.

The demonstrations were the first time the Boeing system simultaneously achieved high beam quality at high power. Combining these two factors results in a measure of brightness, and the brightness measured by the Boeing system is among the best measured to-date by anyone in the industry.

Northrop Grumman has a competing solid state laser technology and is also funded in the Robust Electric Laser Initiative

Grumman's fact sheet had this visualization of combat lasers on helicopters. Various branches of US military will be putting lasers on navy ships, fighters and armored vehicles and trucks

New Heavy oil recovery process can get over 80% of oil in place and is 11% better than previous method

A new enhanced heavy oil recovery (EHOR) process called Cyclic Production with Continuous Solvent Injection (CPCSI) has been developed at the University of Regina in Canada.

In this process, a vapourized solvent near its dew point is continuously injected into the reservoir to maintain reservoir pressure and also supply extra gas drive to flush the diluted oil out through an injector that is located on the top of the reservoir; while a producer, which is located at the bottom of the reservoir, is operated in a shut-in/open cyclic way. A series of experiments have been conducted to evaluate the CPCSI performance. The recovery factors (RFs) are up to 85% of original oil in place (OOIP) in 1-D tests, and the RF is improved by 11% by using the 2-D lateral CPCSI, compared with the traditional 2-D lateral VAPEX. Well configurations and the producer shut-in/open scenarios are key optimization factors that affect the CPCSI performance. Experimental results show that the foamy oil flow and solvent trap are the two major EHOR mechanisms for enhancing the oil production rate during the production period. In comparison with continuous injection process, such as vapour extraction (VAPEX), and cyclic injection process, such as cyclic solvent injection (CSI), CPCSI offers free gas driving, and the reservoir pressure is maintained during the producer opening period so that the diluted oil viscosity is kept low. This work shows that CPCSI could be an alternative optimization production scenario for applying solvent based in situ EHOR techniques for heavy oil reservoirs in Western Canada.

• We tested a new enhanced heavy oil recovery technique, named cyclic production with continuous solvent injection (CPCSI).
• 1-D and 2-D experimental tests were conducted to test the performance of this process.
• The oil recovery factor for this process can reach 80%.
• Compared with the classical VAPEX process, the oil recovery factor is increased by 11%.

This solvent based approach would work far better than SAGD for thin heavy oil formations.

New rechargeable flow battery generates three times the power density of membraneless systems and ten times better than lithium ion

MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn’t rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems — a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries and other commercial and experimental energy-storage systems.

The device stores and releases energy in a device that relies on a phenomenon called laminar flow: Two liquids are pumped through a channel, undergoing electrochemical reactions between two electrodes to store or release energy. Under the right conditions, the solutions stream through in parallel, with very little mixing. The flow naturally separates the liquids, without requiring a costly membrane.

The reactants in the battery consist of a liquid bromine solution and hydrogen fuel. The group chose to work with bromine because the chemical is relatively inexpensive and available in large quantities, with more than 243,000 tons produced each year in the United States.

In addition to bromine’s low cost and abundance, the chemical reaction between hydrogen and bromine holds great potential for energy storage. But fuel-cell designs based on hydrogen and bromine have largely had mixed results: Hydrobromic acid tends to eat away at a battery’s membrane, effectively slowing the energy-storing reaction and reducing the battery’s lifetime.

Plasma-treated nano filters help purify world water supply

An international team of researchers – led by Associate Professor Hui Ying Yang from Singapore University of Technology and Design – showed that water purification membranes enhanced by plasma-treated carbon nanotubes are ideal for removing contaminants and brine from water.

This work paves the way for the next generation of portable water purification devices, which could provide relief to the 780 million people around the world who face every day without access to a clean water supply.

Some smaller portable devices do already exist. However, because they rely on reverse osmosis and thermal processes, they are able to remove salt ions but are unable to filter out organic contaminants from the briny water found in some river and lake systems.

"For people in remote locations, briny water can sometimes be the only available water source," he says. "That's why it's important to not only be able to remove salts from water, but to also be able to put it through a process of purification."

"Our study showed that carbon nanotube membranes were able to filter out ions of vastly different sizes – meaning they were able to remove salt, along with other impurities," he says.

Nature Communications - Carbon nanotube membranes with ultrahigh specific adsorption capacity for water desalination and purification

Pulsar GPS for solar system navigation and precisely weigh planets and rules out planet Nibiru

CSIRO scientists have written software that could guide spacecraft to Alpha Centauri, show that the planet Nibiru doesn’t exist … and prove that the Earth goes around the Sun.

Pulsars are small spinning stars that deliver regular 'blips' or 'pulses' of radio waves and, sometimes, X-rays.

Scientists proposed pulsar navigation as early as 1974. Putting it into practice has recently come closer, with the development of fairly small, lightweight X-ray detectors that could receive the X-ray pulses that certain pulsars emit. NASA is exploring the technique.

"For deep-space navigation, we would use pulsars that had been observed for many years with radio telescopes such as Parkes, so that the timing of their pulses is very well measured," said CSIRO's Dr Dick Manchester, a member of the research team. "Then on board the spacecraft you'd use an X-ray telescope, which is much smaller and lighter."

Dr Hobbs and his colleagues have made a very detailed simulation of a spacecraft navigating autonomously to Mars using this combination of technologies and their TEMPO2 software.

"The spacecraft can determine its position to within about 20 km, and its velocity to within 10 cm per second," said Dr Hobbs. "To our knowledge, this is the best accuracy anyone has ever been able to demonstrate."

"Unlike previous work, we've taken into account that real pulsars are not quite perfect, they have timing glitches and so on. We’ve allowed for that."

Coating that enables two electrons per photon should be able to boost solar cells to over 30% overall efficiency

While today’s commercial solar panels typically have an efficiency of at most 25 percent, a silicon solar cell harnessing singlet fission should make it feasible to achieve efficiency of more than 30 percent, Baldo says — a huge leap in a field typically marked by slow, incremental progress. In solar cell research, he notes, people are striving “for an increase of a tenth of a percent.”

Solar panel efficiencies can also be improved by stacking different solar cells together, but combining solar cells is expensive with conventional solar-cell materials. The new technology instead promises to work as an inexpensive coating on solar cells.

The proof of principle in April, 2013, the team had not yet optimized the energy-conversion efficiency of the system, which remains less than 2 percent. But ratcheting up that efficiency through further optimization should be a straightforward process, the researchers say.

This is a follow up to coverage of research that Pentacene coating was used to boost quantum solar-to-electric conversion efficiency to over 100%

Carnival of Space 315

1. Chandra Space Telescope Blog - Observations with NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have revealed a massive cloud of multimillion-degree gas in a galaxy about 60 million light years from Earth. The hot gas cloud is likely caused by a collision between a dwarf galaxy and a much larger galaxy called NGC 1232.

Some other population projections of a two child policy in China

Some project a 4 million birth per year increase with a shift to a two child policy. This would mean about 12% of families with women aged 23-40 would choose to have a second child. Others project 9.5 million extra births per year based on 25% choosing to have a second child.

The Child Development research foundation was recommending a two-child policy in some provinces back in 2012 and a nationwide two-child policy by 2015. It also proposed all birth limits be dropped by 2020. The think tank is under the State Council, China's Cabinet. Gu Baochang, a professor of demography at Beijing's Renmin University and a vocal advocate of reform, said the proposed timeline wasn't aggressive enough.

The UK has some family size statistics In the UK 39% have a second child and 14% have three or more.

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