August 31, 2013

Researchers are able to grow carbon nanotubes with specific, predictable atomic structures

Researchers at USC have solved a long-standing challenge with carbon nanotubes: how to actually build them with specific, predictable atomic structures. “We are now working on scale up the process,” Zhou said. “Our method can revolutionize the field and significantly push forward the real applications of nanotube in many fields.”

Until now, scientists were unable to “grow” carbon nanotubes with specific attributes — say metallic rather than semiconducting — instead getting mixed, random batches and then sorting them. The sorting process also shortened the nanotubes significantly, making the material less practical for many applications.

They have identified the mechanisms required for mass amplification of nanotubes.

The nanotubes are tubes of graphene, which is made from sheets of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern. (Courtesy of Chongwu Zhou and Jia Liu) - See more at:!/article/54500/usc-researchers-figure-out-how-to-grow-carbon-nanotubes/

Nano Letters - Chirality-Dependent Vapor-Phase Epitaxial Growth and Termination of Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes

Russia's Sixth Generation fighter plane will be unmanned

The former commander in chief of Russia’s air force, Peter Deynekin, announced that design work had begun in Russia on a 6th generation fighter plane. Deynekin did not reveal the timescale for its appearance nor its technical characteristics, but the army general underlined that this aircraft would be unmanned.

The fifth generation russian T-50 is everything that is advanced about Russian military aviation: stealth technology, a high-performance radar system, precision-guided weapons, high maneuverability and world-class onboard electronics. It is the combination of these factors together that radically sets the T-50 apart from earlier 4th generation aircraft. Currently, the aircraft is undergoing testing, while the in-service date is not expected to be before 2016.

According to preliminary assessments by the Pentagon, a “6th generation” combat aircraft needs to be stealthy and highly maneuverable. Conceivably, the future fighter would be hypersonic (faster than Mach 5, around 3,600 miles per hour). Additionally, either a robot or a pilot should be able to fly the aircraft.

Russian next generation long range bomber PAK DA will use hypersonic missiles

Russia’s next generation long-range bomber PAK-DA will be armed with hypersonic weapons, a Defense Ministry source told RIA Novosti Friday.

“PAK-DA will be equipped with all advanced types of precision guided weapons, including hypersonic,” the source said, adding that the bomber itself will be subsonic.

Earlier this week, Boris Obnosov, general director of the Tactical Missile Systems Corporation, revealed that Russia has developed a hypersonic missile. However, he added that although it has been developed, it can only make seconds-long flights.

The PAK DA is the Russian next-generation strategic bomber design, developed by the Tupolev Design Bureau. PAK DA stands for Perspective Aviation Complex for Long-Range Aviation The PAK DA was planned to be a new stealthy strategic bomber and is expected to enter service in 2025–30, with the first aircraft delivered in 2020

Ten thousand person colonization spaceship design

A ten thousand person colonization space ship design is proposed with a focus on how the community and living spaces should be designed. People are assigned area with the density of the city of Seattle and standard mixed use living areas. Everyone has 50 square meters of living space. There is agricultural and other green areas.

August 30, 2013

Cubesats with Large Structureless antennas

Tethers Unlimited has developed (DARPA contract) a revolutionary technology that will enable small spacecraft, such as nanosatellites and picosatellites, to deploy and utilize very large antenna apertures with exceptionally low mass requirements. This technology will enable new capabilities for small, low-power nanosatellites such as transmission of real-time video from GEO.

Spiderfab will use 3D printing and robotics to build a lot bigger, lighter and cheaper in space

Tethers Unlimited is currently developing a revolutionary suite of technologies called "SpiderFab" to enable on-orbit fabrication ofof large spacecraft components such as antennas, solar panels, trusses, and other multifunctional structures. SpiderFab provides order-of-magnitude packing- and mass- efficiency improvements over current deployable structures and enables construction of kilometer-scale apertures within current launch vehicle capabilities, providing higher-resolution data at lower life-cycle cost.

They have received a $500,000 phase 2 NASA NIAC contract, which follows a $100,000 phase 1 contract to develop the technology.

Here is information from the Tethers Unlimited website and from their NASA NIAC presentation.

Vision: Create a ‘Satellite Chrysalis’, consisting of raw material in a compact, durable state, ‘Software DNA’ assembly instructions, and the capability to fabricate and integrate components on orbit to form an operational space system.

Additive Manufacturing and Assembly On-Orbit

Propellant-less Spacecraft and constructing kilometer sized space structures leads the latest Phase 2 NASA Innovative projects

The latest NASA phase 2 NIAC $500,000 awards were announced.

Robert Hoyt, Tethers Unlimited
SpiderFab: Architecture for On-Orbit Construction of Kilometer-Scale Apertures

Young Bae
Propellant-less Spacecraft Formation-Flying and Maneuvering with Photonic Laser Thrusters

Here was a paper from 2007 on the Photonic laser thruster (PLT)

Is the Indian Economy Returning to a Long Period of Stagnation ?

India’s economy slowed in early summer to its weakest pace since the bottom of the global economic downturn in 2009, government statistics released Friday evening showed.

The Central Statistics Office in New Delhi said that the economy grew 4.4 percent in the quarter ended June 30, well below economists’ expectations of 4.8 percent. The quarter was the weakest since output grew 3.5 percent in the quarter that ended March 31, 2009.

The accumulating signs of economic distress — slower growth, a widening current-account deficit, higher oil prices and rising inflation in general — suggest that the monthlong fall of the Indian rupee in currency markets may be a symptom of fundamental troubles in the Indian economy and not just part of the broader difficulties experienced by Asian emerging market currencies in recent weeks.

Billionaire Peter Thiel funds Positron Dynamics who are developing a 10 microgram per week antimatter factory

Billionaire Peter Thiel is famous for his early investment in Facebook. He also was a cofounder of Paypal which was then merged with Xcom which was started by Elon Musk.

Positron Dynamics has seed funding from Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs. Initial simulations show that as much as 10 micrograms of positrons could be produced each week with a linear accelerator," says co-founder Ryan Weed, PhD, a physicist and former cryogenic engineer for Jeff Bezos’s space flight company Blue Origin. We could see the beginning of the age of commercial antimatter within five years.

Right now, the best solution for cooling the positrons is running them through a block of frozen neon (called a "moderator"), which offers a minimum of stray electrons. But the system only catches roughly one in 100 positron.

Positron Dynamics uses an array of 50 or more thinly sliced semiconducting solids. At each layer in the array, particles will lose a little bit of heat to each one until they're cool enough to trap. From there, the positrons can be pulled out of the empty spaces between the layers by a magnetic field. Many of these tactics have been tried before, but never in exactly this combination. The lab also has a few new tricks up its sleeve, like keeping the entire system in a vacuum, so the positrons have a better chance of surviving the different layers of array without running into any electrons. Inevitably, most positrons will still explode before they can make it through the trap — but if Weed can get even one in ten to survive, it would be a massive breakthrough, potentially turning antimatter into an industrial product. Even better, if the Positron Dynamics-style moderator takes off, it could scale the process to even more positron-rich environments like linear accelerators, which create antimatter on a much larger scale.

With micrograms, manned antimatter catalyzed fusion would enable 1 year trips to Jupiter and speeds of 100 kilometers per second for 100 tons and 1000 kilometers per second for probes. Antiproton-Catalyzed Microfission/Fusion (ACMF). Antimatter Initiated Microfusion (AIM)

Positron Dynamics has an outdated website with information from 2011.

Lowering the genetic expression of mTOR gene extends lifespan of mice by 20%

By lowering the expression of a single gene, researchers at the National Institutes of Health have extended the average lifespan of a group of mice by about 20 percent — the equivalent of raising the average human lifespan by 16 years, from 79 to 95. The research team targeted a gene called mTOR, which is involved in metabolism and energy balance, and may be connected with the increased lifespan associated with caloric restriction.

A detailed study of these mice revealed that gene-influenced lifespan extension did not affect every tissue and organ the same way. For example, the mice retained better memory and balance as they aged, but their bones deteriorated more quickly than normal.

Cell Reports - Increased Mammalian Lifespan and a Segmental and Tissue-Specific Slowing of Aging after Genetic Reduction of mTOR Expression

* In mammals, decreased mTOR expression produces a profound increase in lifespan
* Reduced mTOR expression results in lower rates of spontaneous tumor formation
* Age-related benefits of reduced mTOR expression are tissue specific

Poverty causes constant distraction that is like losing 13 IQ points

In a series of experiments run by researchers at Princeton, Harvard, and the University of Warwick, low-income people who were primed to think about financial problems performed poorly on a series of cognition tests, saddled with a mental load that was the equivalent of losing an entire night’s sleep. Put another way, the condition of poverty imposed a mental burden akin to losing 13 IQ points, or comparable to the cognitive difference that’s been observed between chronic alcoholics and normal adults.

Advice for better performance
- do not drink
- get a good nights sleep
- get in an undistracted mental state

Several cups of coffee per dayor 400 mg of caffeine reduces suicide risk by 50 percent

Drinking several cups of coffee daily appears to reduce the risk of suicide in men and women by about 50 percent, according to a new study by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).

The authors reviewed data from three large U.S. studies and found that the risk of suicide for adults who drank two to four cups of caffeinated coffee per day was about half that of those who drank decaffeinated coffee or very little or no coffee.

Caffeine not only stimulates the central nervous system but may act as a mild antidepressant by boosting production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. This could explain the lower risk of depression among coffee drinkers that had been found in past epidemiological studies, the researchers reported.

In spite of the findings, the authors do not recommend that depressed adults increase caffeine consumption, because most individuals adjust their caffeine intake to an optimal level for them and an increase could result in unpleasant side effects. “Overall, our results suggest that there is little further benefit for consu - mption above two to three cups/day or 400 mg of caffeine/day,” the authors wrote.

The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry - Coffee, caffeine, and risk of completed suicide: Results from three prospective cohorts of American adults

New Grayscale Technique Opens a Third Dimension for Nanoscale Lithography

Engineers at the NIST Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) have developed a new technique for fabricating high aspect ratio three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures over large device areas using a combination of electron beam (e-beam) lithography, photolithography, and resist spray coating. While it has long been possible to make complicated 3D structures with many mask layers or expensive grayscale masks, the new technique enables researchers to etch trenches and other high aspect ratio structures with nanometer scale features without using masks and in only two process stages.

The fabrication of 3D semiconductor and dielectric structures that are patterned by exposing resist with varying intensity grayscale gradients has been essential to a broad range of applications such as digital lenses, micro-electromechanical systems, and fluidic medical devices.

Scanning electron micrograph (SEM) showing a top-view along with an SEM (inset) showing a cross-sectional view of grayscale structures fabricated using a combination of e-beam lithography, photolithography, and resist spray coating. The superimposed schematic illustrates e-beam direct writing of nanoscale vertical staircases (SEM inset) on a substrate with microscale grayscale topography. The initial grayscale patterns were generated on a laserwriter. After reactive ion beam etching, the patterns were simultaneously written into 2 µm, 0.5 µm, and 30 µm deep features.

The evaluation of photo/e-beam complementary grayscale lithography for high topography 3D structure

Ytterbium atom clock is ten thousand times better than clocks in current GPS satellites

DARPA’s Quantum-Assisted Sensing and Readout (QuASAR) team built two optical lattice clocks that use ultracold ytterbium atoms to measure the passage of time. Much like the ticking of a pocket watch, the ytterbium clocks tick off seconds by measuring the frequency of light absorbed by atoms as electrons in the ground state jump to an excited state. Each of the clocks relies on approximately 10,000 rare-earth ytterbium atoms cooled to ten millionths of a degree above absolute zero and trapped in an optical lattice made of laser light. Another laser provides the resonant energy necessary for the atoms to cycle between two energy levels a rate of 518 trillion times per second.

How can the Department of Defense take advantage of clocks that are precise to one second in a period comparable to the age of the universe? Currently, the QuASAR work is exploring the limits of just how precisely humans can measure time, but it could also practically impact high-performance timing applications such as GPS position and time dissemination. The QuASAR clocks offer performance that is 10,000 times better than the current atomic clocks used to support GPS satellites. This extreme stability could vastly extend the time between clock updates and may obviate attempts by an adversary to spoof GPS signals. Such clock precision could also enable new, more precise methods to measure gravity, magnetic fields and temperature.

An Atomic clock with 10^-18 instability

August 29, 2013

DARPA projects to either improve GPS or remove vulnerability to loss of satellites

DARPA has its budget for 2014.

Basic Photon Science

FY 2012 21.5 million
FY 2013 25.2 million
FY 2014 18.9 million

FY 2014 Plans:
- Demonstrate a 10 Gigahertz (GHz) oscillator using optical frequency division with a micro-frequency comb.
- Demonstrate free space time transfer over 10 km with timing error 1000 times better than GPS (less than 10^-12 seconds timing error over 1 second).
- Demonstrate laser pulses less than 50 attaseconds for stroboscopic imaging of material dynamics.

Update on the DARPA project that was looking at cold fusion

A DARPA project Fundamentals of Nanoscale and Emergent Effects and Engineered Devices was described in 2012 in a way which clearly indicated that they were investigating aspects of cold fusion for energy production.

DARPA has its budget for 2014 and there is still funding for it and the description indicates that the cold fusion aspect is still part of the objectives.

FY 2012 11.6 million
FY 2013 5.1 million
FY 2014 6.5 million

The Fundamentals of Nanoscale and Emergent Effects and Engineered Devices program seeks to understand and exploit physical phenomena for developing more efficient and powerful devices. This includes developing devices and structures to enable controllable photonic devices at multiple wavelengths, engineering palladium microstructures with large deuterium loadings to study absorption thermodynamics and effects, and enabling real-time detection as well as analysis of signals and molecules and origin of emergent behavior in correlated electron devices.

FY 2012
- Established scalability and scaling parameters in excess heat generation processes in collaboration with the Italian Departmentof Energy.

Better armor, better robots and other DARPA projects for 2014

DARPA has its budget for 2014.

DARPA has several projects related cyber warfare defense and offense. (Big data and social network analysis, various cyber security research projects)
DARPA has a lot of projects related to medical care for wounded soldiers (better prosthetics)
DARPA has projects to rapidly detect, diagnose and counter biological attacks.
DARPA has several projects related to additive or rapid manufacturing (FANG, META, Materials Processing and Manufacturing)

Project Endurance - pod mounted lasers for drones and planes
FY 2013 13.5 million
FY 2014 23.5 million

The Endurance program will develop technology for pod-mounted lasers to protect a variety of airborne platforms from emerging and legacy EO/IR guided surface-to-air missiles.

Multifunctional Materials and Structures

FY 2013 18 million
FY 2014 24 million

Included in this thrust are efforts that will lower the weight and increase the performance of aircraft, enhance the efficiency of turbines, and improve the performance of surface dominated properties (friction, wear, and membrane permeability). New materials synthesis processes for thin films will also be explored to extend equipment lifetime and reduce logistics costs. In addition, reactive structures that can serve as both structure and explosive will be developed to decrease the weight and increase the performance of munitions

Philippines matches China's GDP growth for half of one year

The Philippines expanded an annual 7.5 percent in the second quarter, above the 7.3 percent market estimate, and compared with a revised 7.7 percent in the first three months of the year.

The Southeast Asian country has sustained annual growth of above 7 percent for four quarters in a row.

Like many of its neighbours in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has not been immune to the global downturn or fund outflows as the U.S. Federal Reserve starts winding down monetary stimulus.

The peso is down nearly 8 percent this year. Exports and imports fell more than 4 percent in the first half of the year.

But with a tenth of the Philippines' 97 million population abroad and sending an average $1.7 billion in remittances every month, domestic demand in the country has remained solid, helping cushion the economy from slumping trade.

Can the Philippines sustain above 7% GDP growth for many years ?

The Philippine government hopes to have 7-8.5% GDP growth from 2013-2016.

Air Pollution Causes about 200,000 premature deaths each year in the USA

A MIT group tracked ground-level emissions from sources such as industrial smokestacks, vehicle tailpipes, marine and rail operations, and commercial and residential heating throughout the United States, and found that such air pollution causes about 200,000 early deaths each year. Emissions from road transportation are the most significant contributor, causing 53,000 premature deaths, followed closely by power generation, with 52,000.

California suffers the worst health impacts from air pollution, with about 21,000 early deaths annually, mostly attributed to road transportation and to commercial and residential emissions from heating and cooking.

The researchers also mapped local emissions in 5,695 U.S. cities, finding the highest emissions-related mortality rate in Baltimore, where 130 out of every 100,000 residents likely die in a given year due to long-term exposure to air pollution.

“In the past five to 10 years, the evidence linking air-pollution exposure to risk of early death has really solidified and gained scientific and political traction,” says Steven Barrett, an assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT.

A person who dies from an air pollution-related cause typically dies about a decade earlier than he or she otherwise might have.

The US was producing about 27000 TWh of energy in 2005 (the date of the pollution study).

Water in the solar system

The main places in the solar system with a lot of water:

Europa - two to three times as much water as Earth is on Jupiter's moon

Earth - 1,260,000 trillion tons

Ceres (one-tenth of the total water in Earth's oceans). It could have more fresh water than the Earth

Enceladus (Saturn Moon). About 25-30 miles of ice covering liquid water ocean and then a silicate core.

Hydroxyl from deep inside the moon has been detected

NASA's Moon Mineralogy Mapper instrument aboard India's Chandrayaan-1 probe has made the first detection of "magmatic water" from lunar orbit and confirms analyses performed recently on moon rocks brought to Earth by Apollo astronauts four decades ago

The moon may hide a billion tons of water ice in shadowed craters near its southern pole and more than half that much in the north, according to Shackleton chief operating officer Jim Keravala. There is also hydroxyl over 25% of the surface in the top 1 millimeter (about 28 million tons). The deep hydroxyl finding could mean the one part in a million of hydroxyl goes deep into the moon.

Once considered dry compared with Earth, laboratory analyses of igneous components of lunar samples have suggested that the Moon’s interior is not entirely anhydrous. Water and hydroxyl have also been detected from orbit on the lunar surface, but these have been attributed to nonindigenous sources such as interactions with the solar wind. Magmatic lunar volatiles—evidence for water indigenous to the lunar interior—have not previously been detected remotely. Here we analyse spectroscopic data from the Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) and report that the central peak of Bullialdus Crater is significantly enhanced in hydroxyl relative to its surroundings. We suggest that the strong and localized hydroxyl absorption features are inconsistent with a surficial origin. Instead, they are consistent with hydroxyl bound to magmatic minerals that were excavated from depth by the impact that formed Bullialdus Crater. Furthermore, estimates of thorium concentration in the central peak using data from the Lunar Prospector orbiter indicate an enhancement in incompatible elements, in contrast to the compositions of water-bearing lunar samples. We suggest that the hydroxyl-bearing material was excavated from a magmatic source that is distinct from that of samples analysed thus far.

Huawei, Samsung, Nokia are planning to begin deploying 5G mobile wireless at up to 50 gigabits per second by 2020

Mobile broadband technologies have always been introduced before widespread rollout of the network itself, and 5G will be no exception, Zhou observed. Technologies behind LTE for example, came out in 2002 but the LTE networks did not get rolled out until 2008 or 2009, Zhou pointed out.

Hardware infrastructure deployment for 5G would start in 2020 but the 5G networks would not roll out until 2026-2027.

In the near future, some technologies surrounding base stations such as cognitive radios will start to emerge in the market, he pointed out. These technologies will be focused on sensing user positions, improving signals and increasing cost efficiencies for telcos.

According to Zhou Yuefang, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Huawei's LTE business unit, mobile broadband technologies have traditionally taken about five years to become mainstream and be accepted by the mobile ecosystem, before replacing its predecessor.

While Zhou could not give a defined network latency for 5G, he expects it to be 50Gbps, compared to current 4G LTE speeds typically ranging between 100Mbps and 150Mbps.

Samsung, Nokia and others on the wireless infrastructure hardware end are all working towards 5G on roughly the same timetable.

ARPA-E still trying to commercialize Wave Disk Engine and four other technologies

Five ARPA-E project teams were selected to participate in the upcoming National Science Foundation (NSF) Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, program. This 18 month program started at the beginning of 2013 and will run to mid-2014.

1. Michigan State University (OPEN 2009): Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Norbert Mueller, the team’s wave disk engine under development could perform in a more efficient thermal cycle in a smaller and lighter engine.

If successful, the wave disk enginere would reduce the weight of vehicles by up to 20%, improve their fuel economy by up to 60%, reduce their total cost by up to 30%, and reduce their CO2 emissions by 90%. The engines would be the size of a cooking pot and contain fewer moving parts--reducing the weight of the engine by 30%. It would also enable a vehicle that could use 60% of its fuel for propulsion.

Nextbigfuture covered the wave disk engine back in 2009, 2011 and 2012

2. University of Southern California (GRIDS): Led by Principal Investigator Dr. Sri Narayan, the team’s rechargeable iron-air battery under development is aimed at the need for inexpensive and robust large-scale electrical energy storage systems.

August 28, 2013

US hits another post-1989 Crude oil production record of 7.6 million barrels per day

US crude oil production hit another post-1989 crude oil production record of 7.6 million barrels per day. This is about 20% higher than crude oil production last year. There should be about 100,000 barrels per day more from North Dakota in the next couple of months as there were delays in many new wells in the early part of the summer because of wet weather.

Nanostars produced from 100 kilometer per second impacts of carbon buckyballs using a tabletop device

Dr. Bae gave an oral presentation and a poster presentation with Los Alamos National Lab on "Creating Nanostars with Buckyballs (C60)" at APS-SCCM Conference on July 8th and 9th.

Nanostars have been created and studied at Y. K. Bae Corp. by impacting buckyballs (C60) at hypervelocities (velocity over 100 km/s) in an innovative tabletop apparatus under the auspice of DTRA. The Nanostars are estimated to have ~10 TPa (100 million atmosphere pressure) transient pressures and convert ~35 % of impact kinetic energy into soft-x-ray energy. The ultrahigh-efficiency conversion is proposed to result from Dicke Superradiance of Metastable Innershell Molecular State (MIMS), originally discovered by Dr. Bae and his colleagues in 1994 at Brookhaven National Lab with the use of a large particle accelerator. The innovative usage of buckyballs and successful orders-of-magnitude scaling down of the apparatus size and complexity establish an innovative tabletop method of generating and studying matters in planetary or stellar interiors and open doors to numerous unprecedented applications.

This work could lead to vastly more efficient generation of x-rays at higher intensities.

It could also lead to far more powerful explosives and the replacement of the fission trigger in nuclear fusion bombs. Fusion bombs without fission triggers would have almost zero nuclear fallout.

Covalent bonds have 2-9 electron volts
Hydrogen bond have 0.04 to 0.13 eV
kinetic energy of neutrons produced by D-T fusion, used to trigger fission is 14.1
Average total energy released in the nuclear fission of one uranium-235 atom is 215 MeV

The MIMS material produces keV x-rays. A few hundred times more than regular covalent bond energy. Thousands of times less than nuclear fusion and fission energy levels.

High efficiency generation of super intense x-rays from materials produced by 100 million atmospheric pressure has been funded

DTRA (Defense Threat Reduction Agency) awarded a SBIR Phase I contract to investigate commercial potential of super-intense x-ray generation with MIMS (Metastable Innershell Molecular State) in the areas from semiconductor lithography to x-ray laser.

Scaling up of soft x-ray generation with MIMS will be performed with Los Alamos National Lab under a CRADA arrangement. MIMS was originally discovered by Dr. Bae and his colleagues at the Brookhaven National Lab in 1994. MIMS is a high-energy transient molecular quantum state (similar to excimers) formed by inner-shell electrons during extremely high-pressure (over 100 million atmospheric pressure, or 10 Tera-Pascal) compression of matter to form High Energy Density Materials (HEDM) and Warm Dense Matter (WDM), that can be found in stars and inner cores of large planets, such as Jupiter or Saturn.

Bae is producing MIMS material in a tabletop device now using buckyballs accelerated to over 100 kilometers per second.

Nextbigfuture covered the metastable innershell molecular state work back in 2009. It has the potential to make super explosives. It could be used to replace the nuclear fission trigger of a nuclear fusion bomb. If this was done there would be very little nuclear fallout.

3D Printing simplifies Jet Engines and Elon Musk developing Iron Man Like Design Interface for Rocket Part Design

Elon Musk tweeted two days ago tha Spacex has figured out how to design rocket parts just with hand movements. Spacex will post a video of the process next week. They then use 3d printing to make the parts.

The director of the Iron Man movie Jon Favreau tweeted Musk asking: "Like in Iron Man?"

Elon Musk responded in the affirmative.

NASA used 3D printing to create an injector (part of a jet engine). It was the largest 3-D printed rocket engine component NASA ever has tested. It produced 10 times more thrust than any injector previously fabricated using 3-D printing. The engine firing generated a record (for a 3D printed part) 20,000 pounds of thrust.

Propulsion systems engineer Greg Barnett prepares a rocket injector for a hot fire test at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center

Carnival of Space 316

1. Universe Today Free-floating rogue planets are intriguing objects. The leading theory on how these nomadic planets came to exist is that they were they ejected from their parent star system. But new research shows that there are places in interstellar space that might have the right conditions to form planets — with no parent star required.

Astronomers have found that tiny, round, dark clouds called globulettes have the right characteristics to form free-floating planets. The graph shows the spectrum of one of the globulettes taken at the 20-metre telescope at Onsala Space Observatory. Radio waves from molecules of carbon monoxide (13CO) give information on the mass and structure of these clouds. ESO/M. Mäkelä.

2. Discovery magazine has notes from the Starship Congress: If we become an interstellar race, what should we do if we run into extraterrestrial life?

First mini-lungs, mini-kidneys and mini-hearts and now mini-brains have been grown

Minibrains have been grown from stem cells. They grew 2-3 millimeters (0.08-0.1 in) in diameter, and have survived in lab dishes for 10 months so far. This is the size and has some of the structure of the brain of a 9- or 10-week-old human embryo. Their size is limited, because they lack a circulatory system to provide nutrients and oxygen to their core regions. As a result, the brains could not develop the many layers seen in a real human brain, the researchers said.

Nature - Cerebral organoids model human brain development and microcephaly.

Moore's law will hit an economic wall sometime in early 2020s

Moore's Law -- the ability to pack twice as many transistors on the same sliver of silicon every two years -- will come to an end as soon as 2020 at the 7nm node says Robert Colwell who now works for DARPA (trying to pick after CMOS technology) and was Intel's chief chip architect from 1990 to 2001.

"For planning horizons, I pick 2020 as the earliest date we could call it dead," said Robert Colwell, who seeks follow-on technologies as director of the microsystems group at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. "You could talk me into 2022, but whether it will come at 7 or 5nm, it's a big deal."

Moore's Law was a rare exponential growth factor that over 30 years brought speed boosts from 1 MHz to 5 GHz, a 3,500-fold increase. By contrast, the best advances in clever architectures delivered about 50x increases over the same period, he said. Exponentials always come to an end by the very nature of their unsustainably heady growth. Unfortunately, such rides are rare, Colwell said.

"I don't expect to see another 3,500x increase in electronics -- maybe 50x in the next 30 years," he said.

"I don't think there's ever been a technology development like this one," he said. "Ray Kurzweil ... goes down a different path. He says, 'No, no, no, no; Moore's Law is just one of a set of exponentials over history. It's just the latest one. Don't worry about it.' I say baloney. I don't agree with him at all."

Colwell postulated a future chip designer who accepted the fact that Moore's Law had run its course, but who used a variety of clever architectural innovations to push the envelope. If that designer's chip could provide a 50 per cent improvement in performance or power consumption, Colwell says, it would likely find a market. "But how about 20 per cent? How about 10 per cent? How far down are you willing to go and still think that you've got something you can sell?"

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 171

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 171 is up at Atomic Power Review

Atomic Insights reviews how the major news outlets (CNN, Fox, Reuters etc...) all repeated the claims of a paper written by a political affairs student that had no peer review which claimed that all of the US nuclear reactors were vulnerable to terrorist attack.

It is a stretch to even call this document a “report”, much less research. It is political propaganda. It is not authored or sourced by anyone with technical or scientific credentials nor is there any peer review (for obvious reasons). The faculty author, whose experience is in political science, asserts that the “research” was “primarily by his [student] assistant”. Little can be found to indicate any subject matter expertise upon which he or his student might rely for his conclusions which depend on technical and complex aspects of nuclear science, nuclear materials and nuclear engineering. Rather, his bio boasts of his background as an activist for Greenpeace which is a political, not a scientific, organization. Few references are given in the paper other than quotes from individuals at other anti-nuclear activist organizations.

The author’s errors emanate from multiple underlying shortcomings, not the least of which is an absence of detailed understanding of the way that intelligence is gathered and analyzed by the governmental agencies involved with the process. This is understandable, of course, in that the authors, who apparently do not have a security clearance, admittedly rely solely on un-classified information for conclusions that require classified intelligence. (The tone and style of their discussion about intelligence indicates a depth a sophistication that is in parity with a chamber of commerce brochure)

August 27, 2013

Elon Musk shows innovation comes from outsiders with fresh viewpoints

Elon Musk’s career stands in contrast to what David Burkus calls the Expert Myth, one of many myths, or faulty beliefs, we have about creative people. The Expert Myth claims that innovation is typically the result of the most experienced or knowledgeable person in a field. In reality, breakthroughs are often made by people at the fringes of an activity, by those with a base of knowledge and the ability to bring fresh ideas to the table—people such as Elon Musk.

Musk isn’t the first of his kind, nor will he be the last. Consider Paul Erdos, one of the most famous mathematicians in history. Erdos published more papers than anyone else, at least 1,525 that we can verify. Erdos, too, was known for his tendency to constantly shift the focus of his research, sometimes arriving at the front door of a potential collaborator’s home and announcing, “My brain is open.” He and his collaborators would share knowledge from their respective specialties and provide each other with the benefits of an outsider’s perspective. This constant movement allowed Erdos to influence more areas within mathematics than any other academic.

Global Economic Outlook to 2017 with a lot of risks according to leading rating agency

Dun and Bradstreet have a global economic outlook for the next 5 years.

The recovery from the 2008-2009 recession is the slowest and most problematic of the past century, highlighted by changes in D and B’s country risk ratings: 56 of the 132 countries (42.4%) rate worse than in October 2009 when the recovery started, while only 23 (17.4%) rate better. This level of downward movement is extremely unusual for a recovery and reflects the unique circumstances of this cycle versus prior recoveries. Indeed in 2012, three years into the recovery, D&B downgraded 32 countries—the third highest number of downgrades in one calendar year—while only upgrading seven.

* The recovery from the 2008–09 recession remains the most challenging in the past century.
* Deleveraging in the private and public sectors remains an inhibitor to growth throughout the forecast period.
* These pressures are offset by substantial improvement in the health of the corporate sector.
* Structural imbalances in key emerging economies are potential headwinds.
* The macro-economy, fiscal imbalances, and continued quantitative easing constitute high risks.
* New political risks have arisen as a result of the Arab Spring.
* The recovery will be uneven across regions and in time.

Progress made to improve gene therapy for treating disease without dose limiting side effects

For many disabling or fatal diseases, there is pre-clinical or clinical evidence of the potential therapeutic benefits of gene therapy. Unfortunately, the limitations of current gene transfer technologies have prevented successful trials or even led to serious adverse effects during trials.

The EU-funded project PERSIST ('Persisting transgenesis') was concerned with the development of new gene therapy tools and technologies for clinical application.

The project was successful on a number of levels. First, partners developed new strategies for long-term transgene expression while lowering the risk of induced immune responses, transgene toxicity and genotoxicity.

PERSIST thus overcomes the uncertainty related to dose-limiting side effects of earlier untargeted types of gene therapy. This work can now be applied towards the definition of safer and more effective treatment protocols for human diseases.

The results of the PERSIST project will contribute to improving treatment for the specific diseases the researchers studied. The research could also be applied to several other inherited diseases and sets the stage for applications in acquired diseases such as cancer and for infectious diseases.

New technique for activating multiple genes at the same time

By creating a powerful new gene regulation system called CRISPR-on, Whitehead Institute researchers now have the ability to increase the expression of multiple genes simultaneously and precisely manipulate each gene’s expression level. The system is effective in both mouse and human cells as well as in mouse embryos.

“CRISPR-on is a tool that will be very useful for studying many biological processes, particularly for studying gene functions and gene networks,” says Whitehead Founding Member Rudolf Jaenisch. “In contrast to RNA interference, which is commonly used to inactivate gene activity, the CRISPR-on system allows activation of cellular genes. The technology substantially expands our ability to change gene expression in cultured cells and animals..”

The system, called CRISPR-on, is a modified version of CRISPR/Cas (for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat/CRISPR associated”), which taps into a bacterial defense system against viral intruders. CRISPR/Cas relies on an enzyme, Cas9, which cuts DNA at locations specified by single guide RNAs (sgRNAs). For CRISPR-on, the Whitehead team modified the Cas9 enzyme by eliminating its ability to cleave DNA and adding a transcription activation domain. The resulting enzyme can increase gene expression without permanently changing the DNA.

Whitehead Institute researchers created the enzyme used in CRISPR-on by fusing the Cas9 protein to a VP160 domain containing 10 tandem copies of VP16 motifs. The VP160 domain acts as a transcriptional activation domain. Image: Courtesy of Cell Research

Multiplexed activation of endogenous genes by CRISPR-on, an RNA-guided transcriptional activator system

Nissan promises to start Marketing Affordable Self-Driving Cars by 2020

"Nissan Motor Co. pledges that we will be ready to bring multiple affordable, energy efficient, fully autonomous-driving vehicles to the market by 2020," Executive Vice President Andy Palmer said during a presentation in Southern California.

Nissan demonstrated on Tuesday how a prototype self-driving Leaf electric car could use a combination of laser guidance systems, radar sensors and cameras to navigate around a track with various obstacles.

The car could detect a red light and slow to a stop. When a dummy pedestrian jumped in front of the car, it automatically swerved to the left to avoid a collision. When a test driver engaged the turn signal, the car turned right to simulate exiting a freeway.

The Nissan prototypes don't use a rotating device on the roof, as some of Google's prototype self driving cars do. Instead, Nissan engineers said, their sensors are built into the car.

The big challenge is not technology. The big challenge is regulations.

New York Times Updates the Sky City skyscraper project

China is home to 60 of the world's 100 tallest buildings now under construction. But the skyward aspirations of Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, have inspired incredulity tinged with hostility.

Broad Group, a manufacturer based here in Changsha, has been planning to erect the world's tallest building here this winter, and in record time. The 202-story "Sky City" is supposed to be assembled in only four months from factory-built modules of steel and concrete early next year on the city's outskirts. The digging of foundations began on July 20.

Work nonetheless continued earlier this month at the site. Bulldozers sliced ​​slabs of earth and six drilling rigs bored holes for a drainage system.

Mr. Zhang said in an interview at his headquarters that he had all the approvals needed to start work, and he and other executives said that it was common in China to keep working pending further approvals.

If built as planned, the building would be only 10 meters, or 33 feet, taller than the 2,722-foot Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the world's tallest building since 2010. Sky City would cram 39 more floors into its height than the Burj Khalifa, partly because Sky City would be mostly apartments, which do not need the same hollow spaces under the floors as offices require for wiring and cooling, and partly because the ventilation shafts, electrical wiring and even indoor floor tiles will be packed into the modules while they are still at the factory.

China’s Economy in a report Summarized for the US Congress

There is a congressional report on China's economy. China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the U.S. (43 pages).

China’s economic rise has significant implications for the United States and hence is of major interest to Congress. On the one hand, China is a large (and potentially huge) export market for the United States. Many U.S. firms use China as the final point of assembly in their global supply chain networks. China’s large holdings of U.S. Treasury securities help the federal government finance its budget deficits. However, some analysts contend that China maintains a number of distortive economic policies (such as protectionist industrial policies and an undervalued currency) that undermine U.S. economic interests. They warn that efforts by the Chinese government to promote innovation, often through the use of subsidies and other distortive measures, could negatively affect many leading U.S. industries. This report surveys the rise of China’s economy, describes major economic challenges facing China, and discusses the implications of China’s economic rise for the United States.

Enabling more to catch up to the top 1% with educational reform and increased entrepreneurship

What explains the growing class divide between the well educated and everybody else?

Noted author Brink Lindsey, a senior scholar at the Kauffman Foundation, argues that it's because economic expansion is creating an increasingly complex world in which only a minority with the right knowledge and skills--the right "human capital"--reap the majority of the economic rewards. The complexity of today's economy is not only making these lucky elites richer--it is also making them smarter. As the economy makes ever-greater demands on their minds, the successful are making ever-greater investments in education and other ways of increasing their human capital, expanding their cognitive skills and leading them to still higher levels of success. But unfortunately, even as the rich are securely riding this virtuous cycle, the poor are trapped in a vicious one, as a lack of human capital leads to family breakdown, unemployment, dysfunction, and further erosion of knowledge and skills. In this brief, clear, and forthright eBook original, Lindsey shows how economic growth is creating unprecedented levels of human capital--and suggests how the huge benefits of this development can be spread beyond those who are already enjoying its rewards.

Brink Lindsey’s book Human Capitalism has recommendations for increasing high-skill human capital by providing a fertile environment for its development.

1) maintain economic growth by encouraging entrepreneurship,
2) reform K-12 education by unleashing competition,
3) compensate for disadvantaged environments through early childhood interventions,
4) combat social exclusion of low-skilled adults,
5) improve higher education by limiting tuition subsidies,
6) remove regulatory burdens to entrepreneurship and upward mobility.

US Closes Nuclear Plant, China and Saudi Arabia continue with nuclear power plans

1. Entergy plans to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Cheap Natural Gas and subsidized wind

The decision was driven by sustained low power prices, high cost structure and wholesale electricity market design flaws for Vermont Yankee plant.

Politics also prevented Vermont Yankee from establishing long term contracts.

* A natural gas market that has undergone a transformational shift in supply due to the impacts of shale gas, resulting in sustained low natural gas prices and wholesale energy prices.

* A high cost structure for this single unit plant. Since 2002, the company has invested more than $400 million in the safe and reliable operation of the facility. In addition, the financial impact of cumulative regulation is especially challenging to a small plant in these market conditions.

* Wholesale market design flaws that continue to result in artificially low energy and capacity prices in the region, and do not provide adequate compensation to merchant nuclear plants for the fuel diversity benefits they provide.

2. China's Dongfang Electrical Machinery Company has built the world's biggest per unit generator (1750 megawatts) that will be installed at a nuclear power plant.

The Taishan Nuclear Power Plant is under construction and plans to go online in 2013 and will be the third site to house Areva's 1,700 megawatt (MW) European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) units.

Taishan 1 is scheduled to begin operation by December 2013.
Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operation by December 2014.
They will each have taken just over 4 years to build.

Optimal placement of femtocells will help meet demand for wireless broadband

Communication will account for $4.5 trillion in economic activity globally in 2020. But if we have only half the spectrum we need to conduct business like we are used to doing, it could negatively impact the U.S. economy by about $750 billion.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) projects a spectrum shortage for broadband services in the near future.

Idaho National Laboratory researcher Dr. Juan Deaton has been working on a method that seeks to solve the approaching spectrum deficit by examining how cell networks could optimize spectrum use to get the most out of the existing range. Without optimizing spectrum use, the impacts of a spectrum deficit would extend from an individual level, like dropped calls and slow connections, to global economic consequences.

Deaton uses locations of real cell towers with population data to suggest the location of femto-cells to improve cell phone coverage.

The economic impact of bringing 500 MHz of spectrum (per the FCC's National Broadband Plan) to market by 2020 is $87 billion increase in U.S. GDP; at least 350,000 new U.S. jobs; additional $23.4 billion in government revenues; and $13.1 billion increase in wireless applications and content sales.

National Ignition facility triples laser fusion yield to 8000 joules

On Aug.13, Lawrence Livermore's National Ignition Facility (NIF) focused all 192 of its ultra-powerful laser beams on a tiny deuterium-tritium filled capsule. In the nanoseconds that followed, the capsule imploded and released a neutron yield of nearly 3x10^15, or approximately 8,000 joules of neutron energy -- approximately three times NIF's previous neutron yield record for cryogenic implosions.

Early calculations show that fusion reactions in the hot plasma started to self-heat the burning core and enhanced the yield by nearly 50 percent, pushing close to the margins of alpha burn, where the fusion reactions dominate the process.

"The yield was significantly greater than the energy deposited in the hot spot by the implosion," said Ed Moses, principle associate director for NIF and Photon Science. "This represents an important advance in establishing a self-sustaining burning target, the next critical step on the path to fusion ignition on NIF."
The preamplifiers of the National Ignition Facility are the first step in increasing the energy of laser beams as they make their way toward the target chamber.

August 26, 2013

McKinsey's Gordon Orr analyzes his past and future predictions for China

What McKinsey's Gordon Orr has learned from five years of making annual predictions about China.

New Year forecasting is a widely practiced business art in most areas of the world, but in China it carries particular risks and rewards. Here are a few reflections to help leaders trying to plan ahead in this fast-changing land:

* As long as you are directionally correct, growth in China will make your predictions right at some point, and often very quickly. Having a sense for the pace of change is critical.

* Don’t rely too heavily on government statistics. In the past, at least, the government struggled to gather quality data, and what data it had were often heavily massaged.

* Trying to forecast exactly when discontinuities will happen is a fool’s game. But identifying what types of discontinuities will happen is a fool’s game. But identifying what types of discontinuities could occur—and having a plan to deal with them if they do—is a basic corporate responsibility.

* Volatility is a central feature of the Chinese economy. Consumers and businesses still overreact to signals to spend, to invest, and to cut back, so there will be unexpected jumps in demand—and setbacks. Don’t forecast in straight lines.

* Economics is still economics in China. If something looks odd, it probably is. Find out why before you forecast (or invest).

* It is more important for forecasting to be interesting—thereby encouraging debate, scenario planning, and a flexible mind-set—than comprehensive.

Gordon Orr had the following predictions at the beginning of 2013.

McKinsey view of China's future

McKinsey is forecasting a worsening shortage of university educated and vocationally trained people in China by 2020.

According to new McKinsey research, at the lower end of the labor market, in 2020 there will be 23 million more people than jobs suited for their limited education (primary school or less). At the upper end, we project that Chinese employers will demand 142 million more high-skilled workers—those with university degrees or vocational training—or about 24 million more than the country will likely supply. Companies could fill this high-skilled labor gap with less-skilled workers, but this would result in productivity losses or poorer quality products and services. Other companies may leave roles unfilled, delaying the decision to grow or expand. McKinsey estimates that if China does not bridge this gap by 2020, the opportunity cost could reach some $250 billion (about 2.3 percent of GDP)—greater than the economic output of Hong Kong or Israel.

Superstrong graphene metal composite created that hundreds of times stronger than pure metal

New metamaterial has been developed exhibiting hundreds of times greater strength than pure metals. Professor Seung Min, Han and Yoo Sung, Jeong,Professor Seok Woo, Jeon have developed a composite nanomaterial. The nanomaterial consists of graphene inserted in copper and nickel and exhibits strengths 500 times and 180 times, respectively, greater than that of pure metals.

Schematic of metal–graphene multilayer system synthesis.

In separate research announced in May, 2013, Columbia Engineering researchers demonstrated that graphene, even if stitched together from many small crystalline grains, is almost as strong as graphene in its perfect crystalline form. This work resolves a contradiction between theoretical simulations, which predicted that grain boundaries can be strong, and earlier experiments, which indicated that they were much weaker than the perfect lattice. Scientists can grow sheets of graphene as large as a television screen by using chemical vapor deposition (CVD), in which single layers of graphene are grown on copper substrates in a high-temperature furnace. One of the first applications of graphene may be as a conducting layer in flexible displays. The graphene has a strength of 95 gigapascals. It has 90% of the strength of perfect molecular graphene and is stronger than molecular carbon nanotubes.

Chinese shipbuilders develop integrated electric propulsion technology

China Shipbuilding Industry Corp said its Wuhan Institute of Marine Electric Propulsion finalized its integrated electric propulsion technology in mid-July. It said the in-house development will help the nation wean itself off the longstanding dependence on imported parts in manufacturing ships.

Most surface vessels in China use mechanical transmissions and are propelled by a motor or an engine spinning a propeller. Many Western countries have adopted integrated electric propulsion, in which gas turbines or diesel generators produce electricity that powers electric motors.

The development of integrated electric propulsion may resolve engine problems that have long haunted the nation and its navy. One of the major issues has been a lack of domestic companies who can make gas turbine engines to support long distance voyages.

Without domestically developed gas turbine engines, the Chinese navy has been forced to import foreign engines for its ships, said a military expert who did not want to be named. And until an electric propulsion engine is more widely available in China, most ships must run on an engine fueled by diesel and gas.

"Compared with other drive methods, integrated electric propulsion has many advantages. It can save more space and is easier to control. It helps reduce a ship's weight and noise," Wang said. "It also enables ships to cruise at a faster speed and for a longer time."

Hypersolar nears voltage level for direct solar hydrogen production without expensive electrolyzer

HyperSolar, the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, announced that its artificial photosynthesis technology is now capable of producing 1.0 volt open circuit voltage for use in direct solar hydrogen production. This achievement represents a dramatic voltage increase over the previous 0.2 volt just 8 months ago, and 0.75 volt just 3 months ago.

It is well known that the theoretical voltage for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen is 1.23 volts, and approximately 1.5 volts in real-world systems. Achieving 1.5 volts using inexpensive solar cells has eluded the world. For example, silicon solar cells are the most inexpensive and abundant, but their 0.7 volt is not enough to split water. Commercially available high voltage solar cells are unfortunately too expensive for use in hydrogen production.

HyperSolar is developing and intends to market a novel solar hydrogen generator that eliminates the expensive electrolyzer by integrating the electrolysis function directly into a solar cell.

3D Graphene replaces platinum in dye sensitized solar power

Dye-sensitized solar cells are thin, flexible, easy to make and very good at turning sunshine into electricity. However, a key ingredient is one of the most expensive metals on the planet: platinum. While only small amounts are needed, at $1,500 an ounce, the cost of the silvery metal is still significant.

Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Carroll McArthur Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, has developed a new, inexpensive material that could replace the platinum in solar cells without degrading their efficiency: 3D graphene.

Regular graphene is a famously two-dimensional form of carbon just a molecule or so thick. Hu and his team invented a novel approach to synthesize a unique 3D version with a honeycomb-like structure. To do so, they combined lithium oxide with carbon monoxide in a chemical reaction that forms lithium carbonate (Li2CO3) and the honeycomb graphene. The Li2CO3 helps shape the graphene sheets and isolates them from each other, preventing the formation of garden-variety graphite. Furthermore, the Li2CO3 particles can be easily removed from 3D honeycomb-structured graphene by an acid.

A field emission scanning electron microscopy (FESEM) image of 3D honeycomb-structured graphene. The novel material can replace platinum in dye-sensitized solar cells with virtually no loss of generating capacity. Hui Wang image

Lunar XPrize technology video and Jack Andrade part of the team competing for the Tricorder Xprize

A video compilation of the newest hardware, tech, and just plain cool stuff that comes out of the Google Lunar XPRIZE teams! If you like robots and rockets then you have come to the right place.

August 25, 2013

Former US Congressman and Navy Admiral Joe Sestak discusses his views on Thorium nuclear energy

Former U.S. congressman, Navy admiral and senatorial candidate Joe Sestak addresses Thorium Energy Alliance in Chicago.

"This issue of thorium with rare earth minerals has to be looked at as a national security issue. I believe that thorium, with rare earths is a way to enhance, greatly, the accessibility of our energy in so many fields, not just in nuclear power."

He has an interesting military and politically aware view.

Mark Halper reviews what happened in 2012-2013 with Thorium Reactors

Mark Halper delivered a thorium year-in-review at the Thorium Energy Alliance's 5th conference, in Chicago on May 30th 2013.

Mark Halper writes for The Guardian and CBS SmartPlanet.

Mark reviewed China's thorium work, India, Transatomic, STL, Terrestrial Energy and more.

China will use the reactors for heat and electricity. They will assist with coal gasification and hydrogen production.

Pacific Rim Sequel likely with strong box office in China

Pacific Rim made more box office in China than in the USA. Pacific Rim may edge over $100 million in the USA but will likely make $135-160 million in China. Pacific Rim last week reported over $100 million in China after 3 weeks with a third number one weekend box office of $14.6 million (a 25% drop from the second weekend).

This could help Pacific Rim to as much as $500 million in worldwide box office. Pacific Rim should pass $400 million when the numbers are released early this week for last weeks totals. I think $450 million world box office is certain.

India's deadly complacency and failures to reform

The Economist has pointed out the causes for India's economic regression. Currencies and shares have tumbled, from Brazil to Indonesia, but one country has been particularly badly hit.

Not so long ago India was celebrated as an economic miracle. In 2008 Manmohan Singh, the prime minister, said growth of 8-9% was India’s new cruising speed. He even predicted the end of the “chronic poverty, ignorance and disease, which has been the fate of millions of our countrymen for centuries”. Today he admits the outlook is difficult. The rupee has tumbled by 13% in three months. The stockmarket is down by a quarter in dollar terms. Borrowing rates are at levels last seen after Lehman Brothers’ demise. Bank shares have sunk.

India’s troubles are caused partly by global forces beyond its control. But they are also the consequence of a deadly complacency that has led the country to miss a great opportunity.

During the 2003-08 boom, when reforms would have been relatively easy to introduce, the government failed to liberalise markets for labour, energy and land. Infrastructure was not improved enough. Graft and red tape got worse.

Private companies have slashed investment. Growth has slowed to 4-5%, half the rate during the boom. Inflation, at 10%, is worse than in any other big economy. Tycoons who used to cheer India’s rise as a superpower now warn of civil unrest.

As well as undermining 1.2 billion people’s hopes of prosperity, failure to reform dragged down the rupee. Restrictive labour laws and weak infrastructure make it hard for Indian firms to export. Inflation has led people to import gold to protect their savings. Both factors have swollen the current-account deficit, which must be financed by foreign capital. Add in the foreign debt that must be rolled over, and India needs to attract $250 billion in the next year, more than any other vulnerable emerging economy.

All countries getting older faster but some are not getting richer

China doubters believe that China will get old before they get rich. This will be a close race as China is still increasing per capita GDP by about 6% to 7.5% per year for several years and has a currency that will likely get a lot stronger. As is often the case the China critics diagnose a problem which could be a lot worse for other developing countries.

Many other countries are getting older a lot faster than the developed countries did while not reliably improving per capita income.

France and Sweden, which reached the 7 per cent point of the population age 65 or older before 1900, took 114 years and 82 years, respectively, to reach 14 per cent. That same transition required only 24 years in Japan, from 1970 to 1994. Several developing countries shown in figure IV will also make a rapid transition from 7 to 14 per cent aged 65 or older. Brazil, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Tunisia are projected to make this transition in a time-span of under 25 years, and the two most populous countries, China and India, may require only 25 and 28 years, respectively.

Pretty much all countries are getting older faster than before but many are not getting richer fast enough.

India has fallen back to about 5% GDP growth. Indonesia's growth could be faltering and both have about 10% inflation. Many other countries are in the 3-5% GDP growth range.

There are many countries that are not improving as rapidly as China but are aging as fast or nearly as fast.

Japan and Germany have over 20% of their population over the age of 65 now.

Here is a presentation on world aging.

Realtime adaptive optics will enable exoplanet search and characterization by 30 meter and 40 meter ground based telescopes

The new camera and adaptive optics of the Giant Magellan Telescope are enabling the sharpest images of the night sky ever. This is just the start for the next generation of ground based telescopes. The Giant Magellan telescope still must be completed for its combined lens for 27 meter collecting area.

Two other big ground based telescopes are the Thirty meter telescope and the European Extremely Large Telescope. They will have up to one hundred times the resolution of the Hubble Telescope and 20 times the collecting area.

The European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) is a planned ground-based extremely large telescope for the optical/near-infrared range, to be built by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on a mountain top in Cerro Armazones, Chile. The design comprises a reflecting telescope with a 39.3 metre diameter segmented primary mirror, a 4.2 metre diameter secondary mirror, and will be supported by adaptive optics and multiple instruments
European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT)

New Adaptive Optics enable the partially completed Giant Magellan Telescope to take the sharpest space images ever

To correct for atmospheric turbulence, the Giant Magellan Telescope team developed a very powerful adaptive optics system that floats a thin (1.6 mm –1/16 of inch thick) curved glass mirror (85 cm across) on a magnetic field 9.2m above the big primary mirror of the telescope. This, so-called Adaptive Secondary Mirror (ASM) can change its shape at 585 points on its surface 1000 times a second. In this manner the “blurring” effects of the atmosphere can be removed, and thanks to the high density of actuators on this mirror, astronomers can see the visible sky more clearly than ever before.

They can resolve objects just 0.02 arcseconds across—this is a very small angle—it is like resolving the width of a dime seen from 100 miles away, or like resolving a convoy of three school busses driving together on the surface of the Moon.

The reason for the factor of 2 improvement over past efforts is that, for the first time, a large 6.5m telescope is being used for digital photography at its theoretical resolution limit in wavelengths of visible light. “As you move from infrared to visible light, your image sharpness improves”, said Dr. Jared Males, a NASA Sagan Fellow at the University of Arizona , “Up until now, large telescopes could make the theoretically sharpest photos only in infrared (long wavelength) light, but our new camera can work in the visible and make photos twice as sharp”. These images are also at least twice as sharp as what the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) can make because the 6.5m Magellan telescope is much larger than the 2.4m HST.

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) will be a ground-based extremely large telescope planned for completion in 2020. It will consist of seven 8.4 m (27.6 ft) diameter primary segments, with the resolving power of a 24.5 m (80.4 ft) primary mirror and collecting area equivalent to a 22.0 m (72.2 ft) one. The telescope is expected to have over 5-10 times the light-gathering ability of existing instruments.

The power of visible light adaptive optics. Here we show (on the left) a “normal”photo of the theta 1 Ori C binary star in red light (in the r’ filter, 630 nm). It just looks an unresolved star. Then the middle image shows how if we remove (in real time) the blurring of the atmosphere with MagAO’s adaptive optics’ the resulting photo becomes ~17 times sharper (corrected resolutions range from 0.019-0.029 arcseconds on theta 1 Ori C). Both photos are 60 seconds long, and no post-detection image enhancement has been applied.These are the highest resolution photos taken by a telescope. Photo credit Laird Close,University of Arizona.

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