November 09, 2013

World's First Commercial Nanostructured Bulk Metal which is high-strength bainitic steel

In a paper published in the Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, Bhadeshia introduces the world's first bulk nanostructured metal in commercial production. The nanostructure-controlled high-strength bainitic steel, where the thickness of bainitic ferrite platelets is controlled between 20 and 50 nm is shown in the figures below.

The review paper explains why nanostructure plays an important role in strengthening materials, and the conditions required to design and develop such "nanostructured" materials. In particular, the biggest challenge is to keep the production cost as low as that of bottled water. So, what magic is needed to produce low-cost nanostructured bulk steel? The answer is simple - keep the bulk at 200 degrees Celsius for 10 days, which will lead to the formation of plate-like bainitic structure. One deficiency of the material is that it is yet difficult to weld, but the author lays out possible solutions to overcome this.

The strength can be as high as 2.5 GPa with excellent combinations of strength, ductility, toughness, fatigue resistance and wear resistance; some of the properties are displayed in figure 6. There have even been powder metallurgical variants where a strength of some 1800 MPa and a ductility of about 6% is obtained in spite of an oxygen content of 0.23 wt%

Science and Technology of Advanced Materials - The first bulk nanostructured metal

Urine powered eco-robots

Researchers have created a device that converts human waste to power EcoBots. The artificial device that functions similar to a human heart uses artificial muscles made from smart materials called shape memory alloys. The muscles compresses the body of the pump (the middle part of the device) and forces the human urine out into the machine's bacterially-driven 'engine room.'

Researchers based at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory – a joint venture between the UWE Bristol and the University of Bristol – have created four generations of EcoBots in the past 10 years, each of which is powered by electricity-generating microbial fuel cells that employ live microorganisms to digest waste organic matter and generate low-level power.

Previous studies have proved that EcoBots can generate energy from rotten fruit, vegetables, dead flies, waste water, sludge and human urine.
"We speculate that in the future, urine-powered EcoBots could perform environmental monitoring tasks such as measuring temperature, humidity and waste water quality. A number of EcoBots could also function as a mobile, distributed sensor network.

A stack of 24 microbial fuel cells fed on urine were able to generate enough electricity to charge a capacitor. The energy stored in the capacitor was then used to start another cycle of pumping from the artificial heart.

“The artificial heartbeat is mechanically simpler than a conventional electric motor-driven pump by virtue of the fact that it employs artificial muscle fibres to create the pumping action, rather than an electric motor, which is by comparison a more complex mechanical assembly,” continued Walters.

The group's future research will focus on improving the efficiency of the device, and investigating how it might be incorporated into the next generation of MFC-powered robots.

Bioinspiration and Biomimetics - Artificial heartbeat: design and fabrication of a biologically inspired pump

Laser Uranium Enrichment has completed first test loop

GE and Hitachi are building the first commercial-scale U-235 laser enrichment facility licensed for production. It will use an Australian-developed laser enrichment technology known as Separation of Isotopes by Laser Excitation (SILEX). Currently Silex has completed its phase I test loop program at GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment’s (GLE) facility in North Carolina. When the commercial plant is built, its target enrichment level will be 8 percent, which puts it on the upper end of low-enriched uranium. SILEX is only one of a number of new approaches that have been investigated for uranium enrichment.

Details of the SILEX are classified under the provisions of the US Atomic Energy Act. So while we don't have the whole story on the details of the process, it's reasonable to assume that only about three stages of enrichment are needed to produce five percent enriched uranium from ore, and only about seven stages to produce fully weapons-grade enriched uranium. Estimates suggest that a laser-based uranium enrichment plant would have an initial cost, size, and power requirement about one-fifth that of an equivalent centrifuge-based enrichment plant. The operating cost would also be expected to be far smaller.

Simpler, smaller, and less costly are characteristics that give laser enrichment of isotopes major potential to reduce the cost of nuclear power. However, these same characteristics also make such processes pose a substantial danger for widespread proliferation.

8 page description of the SILEX process

71 page updated license application

Self-steering particles for better labs on a chip

MIT chemical engineers have designed tiny particles that can “steer” themselves along preprogrammed trajectories and align themselves to flow through the center of a microchannel, making it possible to control the particles’ flow through microfluidic devices without applying any external forces.

Such particles could make it more feasible to design lab-on-a-chip devices, which hold potential as portable diagnostic devices for cancer and other diseases. These devices consist of microfluidic channels engraved on tiny chips, but current versions usually require a great deal of extra instrumentation attached to the chip, limiting their portability.

Much of that extra instrumentation is needed to keep the particles flowing single file through the center of the channel, where they can be analyzed. This can be done by applying a magnetic or electric field, or by flowing two streams of liquid along the outer edges of the channel, forcing the particles to stay in the center.

The new MIT approach, described in Nature Communications, requires no external forces and takes advantage of hydrodynamic principles that can be exploited simply by altering the shapes of the particles

A slightly asymmetrical particle flows along the center of a microfluidic channel.

MEMS market will almost double from 2012 to $22 billion in 2018

The market for micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) chips will almost double from about $12 billion in 2012 to over $22 billion by 2018, according to market analyst. MEMS for mobile is the driver for future growth, noting that smartphones have as many as 12 MEMS chips today, growing to as many as 20 in the near future. They expect to see increases in number of MEMS devices in mobile platforms, led by more integrated solutions, such as 9-axis sensors.

Cheap metamaterials could charge cellphones by converting wifi signals to power with 37% efficiency

Using inexpensive materials configured and tuned to capture microwave signals, researchers at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering have designed a power-harvesting device with efficiency similar to that of modern solar panels.

It operates on a similar principle to solar panels, which convert light energy into electrical current. But this versatile energy harvester could be tuned to harvest the signal from other energy sources, including satellite signals, sound signals or Wi-Fi signals, the researchers say.

The key to the power harvester lies in its application of metamaterials, engineered structures that can capture various forms of wave energy and tune them for useful applications.

With additional modifications, the researchers said the power-harvesting metamaterial could potentially be built into a cell phone, allowing the phone to recharge wirelessly while not in use. This feature could, in principle, allow people living in locations without ready access to a conventional power outlet to harvest energy from a nearby cell phone tower instead.

“Our work demonstrates a simple and inexpensive approach to electromagnetic power harvesting,” said Cummer. “The beauty of the design is that the basic building blocks are self-contained and additive. One can simply assemble more blocks to increase the scavenged power.”

This five-cell metamaterial array developed by Duke engineers converts stray microwave energy, as from a WiFi hub, into more than 7 volts of power with an efficiency of 36.8 percent—comparable to a solar cell.

Compact Atomic Clock Design Uses Cold Atoms to Boost Precision

The heart of the prototype clock (the vacuum chamber containing the atoms) is about the size of a coffee mug, 150 cubic centimeters, set in a small table of lasers and electronics. This is about 10 times larger than NIST's chip-scale atomic clock packages—for now. But when miniaturized and improved, NIST's new clock design has the potential to be about the same size and 1,000 times more precise and stable than chip-scale atomic clocks over crucial timespans of a day or more.
By achieving this goal, the cold-atom clock could also match the performance of commercial cesium-beam atomic clocks, common laboratory instruments, but in a smaller package.

NIST pioneered the development of chip-sized atomic clocks in 2004.

Miniature atomic clocks based on coherent population trapping (CPT) states in thermal atoms are an important component in many field applications, particularly where satellite frequency standards are not accessible. Cold-atom CPT clocks promise improved accuracy and stability over existing commercial technologies. Here we demonstrate a cold-atom CPT clock based on 87Rb using a high-contrast double-Λ configuration. Doppler frequency shifts are explained using a simple model and canceled by interrogating the atoms with counterpropagating light beams. We realize a compact cold-atom CPT clock with a fractional frequency stability of 4×10^−11τ−1/2, thus demonstrating the potential of these devices. We also show that the long-term stability is currently limited by the second-order Zeeman shift to 2×10^−12 at 1000 s.

Physical Review A - cold-atom double-Λ coherent population trapping clock

November 08, 2013

Just felt a 3.0 Earthquake Exactly at my location in San Ramon

Sharp 3.0 Earthquake but exactly at my location. Felt like a massive bookcase fell over in the house causing a large thud and floor to vibrate from impact. But nothing did fall over, it was just the shock of the earthquake slamming the building

China needs 7.2% GDP Growth for fully employed economy

Speaking at a national congress for China’s official trade union two weeks ago, Premier Li Keqiang said that China needs economic growth of at least 7.2 percent in order to ensure adequate employment. Li’s comment contrasts with the once oft-intoned rallying cry of “bao ba” or “protect eight,” meaning China must ensure growth does not fall below 8 percent in large part to ensure adequate employment. That mantra was common among Chinese policymakers until just a couple of years ago.

Now with gross domestic product growth of 7.2 percent, China can create 10 million new jobs annually and ensure that registered urban unemployment is around 4 percent, Li said. (Keep in mind that the official figure is of limited value in measuring China’s true unemployment rate, given high numbers of migrant workers and others that aren’t counted in the official rate.)

China could become the third largest producer of nuclear energy in 2014

Russia currently has the third largest active production of nuclear energy. Japan has more but most of their nuclear reactors are shutdown. Japan is likely to only have a partial restart of about 12 nuclear reactors in 2014. Russia could complete 1-4 nuclear reactors by the end of 2014.

China could complete 8-15 nuclear reactors by the end of 2014. Several were scheduled to start in 2013 and are close to starting by the startup might slip a few months into the early part of 2014.

By adding 10 GW of nuclear power, China should pass Russia and South Korea. China would need to get about nine nuclear reactors started.Most of the new reactors are 1.08 GWe. There is one that is 1.7 GWe and a couple that are 1.25 GWe.

China should pass France for second most nuclear energy generation in about 2018-2019.

Personal electric helicopter coming from Japan in about 2016

Hirobo makes a lot of remote controlled model planes.

Hirobo plans to make a one man micro electric helicopter and have it ready for market in 2016. Lack of regulations by the United States Federal Aviation Authority would be the inhibiting factor for market availability. Selling price will be in the range of US$240,000. It can probably have a range of around 30 miles (48 km) and a top speed of 62 mph (100 km/h

Asteroids can be moved into lunar orbits and used for operating bases

Retrograde orbits around the moon are stable and can be used as places park redirected near earth asteroids.

Possible Selenocentric Distant Retrograde Orbits (SDRO) Applications In Addition To Redirected Asteroid Storage

• Remote operation of lunar surface robotics with humans in SDRO
• Reusable interplanetary transport infrastructure "garage" between missions in SDRO

Trades Between EML1/2 And SDRO Architectures Are Barely Understood
• Continuous communications with Earth are possible from EML1 and near EML2; SDROs have periodic outages of an hour or more
• Access to EML1/2 from Earth is comparable to 70,000 km radius SDRO
• Lunar surface access from EML1/2 is comparable to an 70,000 km (radius) SDRO, but requires less time and for SDROs with smaller radius in best cases. Planar SDRO geometry can impose access outages for mid - latitude lunar landings/returns, but lunar surface access from EML1/2 is independent of landing site location and landing time.
• Stationkeeping near EML1/2 requires weekly impulses; a stable SDRO requires none

Indonesia looks to Monorail to alleviate traffic jams in Jakarta

In October Joko Widodo, the governor of the capital, Jakarta, restarted two of the city's moribund mass-transit projects, which formed an important part of his successful gubernatorial campaign in 2012. First, he broke ground on the initial stage of a mass rapid transit (MRT) line, and days later he announced that work would restart on a two-line monorail.

The city committed only around 8% of its land area to roads, which, according to Scott Younger of a local consultancy, Nusantara Infrastructure, is about one-half of what is usually necessary.

Economic losses linked to gridlocked intersections and roads will balloon to about Rp65trn (US$6.3bn) a year in 2020, from Rp13trn in 2005. The bottlenecks strain overburdened ports and push up consumer prices, especially for food.

Bio patch can regrow bone with Potential uses for dental and implants

Researchers at the University of Iowa have created a bio patch to regenerate missing or damaged bone by putting DNA into a nano-sized particle that delivers bone-producing instructions directly into cells.

The bone-regeneration kit relies on a collagen platform seeded with particles containing the genes needed for producing bone. In experiments, the gene-encoding bio patch successfully regrew bone fully enough to cover skull wounds in test animals. It also stimulated new growth in human bone marrow stromal cells in lab experiments.

The study is novel in that the researchers directly delivered bone-producing instructions (using piece of DNA that encodes for a platelet-derived growth factor called PDGF-B) to existing bone cells in vivo, allowing those cells to produce the proteins that led to more bone production. Previous attempts had relied on repeated applications from the outside, which is costly, intensive, and harder to replicate consistently.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have created a bio patch to regenerate missing or damaged bone. The patch has been shown to nearly fully regrow missing skull, seen in the image above. Image courtesy of Satheesh Elangovan.

Designed Nanostructured crystals could make tunable antennas to eliminate dropped cellphone calls and open up wireless communication at higher frequencies up to 125 Ghz

Cell phone antennas have tuning circuits that quickly switch frequencies when controlled by a voltage applied to a tunable capacitor. Cell phone companies want to improve these circuits to pack more discrete signals into a finite allocation of spectrum and minimize those pesky dropped calls.

Researchers have developed the world’s best material for tunable capacitors – broadly called a tunable dielectric, a special insulator whose ability to store electrical charge changes when a voltage is applied.

The Cornell-designed and -created new type of tunable dielectric could greatly improve the performance of microwave circuit capacitors found in every cell phone and open up new possibilities for wireless communication at much higher frequencies.

Progress to regrowing nerve cells

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a chain reaction that triggers the regrowth of some damaged nerve cell branches, a discovery that one day may help improve treatments for nerve injuries that can cause loss of sensation or paralysis.

The scientists also showed that nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are missing a link in this chain reaction. The link, a protein called HDAC5, may help explain why these cells are unlikely to regrow lost branches on their own. The new research suggests that activating HDAC5 in the central nervous system may turn on regeneration of nerve cell branches in this region, where injuries often cause lasting paralysis.

When the researchers genetically modified the HDAC5 gene to keep its protein trapped in the nuclei of peripheral nerve cells, axons did not regenerate in cell cultures. The scientists also showed they could encourage axon regrowth in cell cultures and in animals by dosing the cells with drugs that made it easier for HDAC5 to leave the nucleus.

When the scientists looked for the same chain reaction in central nervous system cells, they found that HDAC5 never left the nuclei of the cells and did not travel to the site of the injury. They believe that failure to get this essential player out of the nucleus may be one of the most important reasons why central nervous system cells do not regenerate axons.

“This gives us the hope that if we can find ways to manipulate this system in brain and spinal cord neurons, we can help the cells of the central nervous system regrow lost branches,” Cavalli said. “We’re working on that now.”

Enhancing cell metabolism was an unexpected key to regrow hair, cartilage, bone, soft tissues

Young animals are known to repair their tissues effortlessly, but can this capacity be recaptured in adults? A new study from researchers at the Stem Cell Program at Boston Children's Hospital suggests that it can. By reactivating a dormant gene called Lin28a, which is active in embryonic stem cells, researchers were able to regrow hair and repair cartilage, bone, skin and other soft tissues in a mouse model.

The study also found that Lin28a promotes tissue repair in part by enhancing metabolism in mitochondria—the energy-producing engines in cells—suggesting that a mundane cellular "housekeeping" function could open new avenues for developing regenerative treatments.

RNA-binding protein, Lin28a, promotes tissue repair by reactivating a metabolic state reminiscent of the juvenile developmental stage.

"Efforts to improve wound healing and tissue repair have mostly failed, but altering metabolism provides a new strategy which we hope will prove successful," says the study's senior investigator George Q. Daley, MD, PhD, director of Boston Children's Stem Cell Transplantation Program and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

To better understand how Lin28a promotes tissue repair, the researchers systematically looked at what specific RNAs it binds to. They initially had their sights on a tiny RNA called Let-7, which is known to promote cell maturation and aging.

"We were confident that Let-7 would be the mechanism," says Shyh-Chang. "But there was something else involved."

Asteroid size danger chart

I have promoted this article with Asteroid size danger from regular contributor Goat Guy.

There certainly have been a lot of detection events in the military surveillance satellite record, both public and secret. I'm not terribly surprised at the 1 in 15 years for "megaton class" impactors: ⅘ of the world is ocean, far from eyes that might catch a glimpse of such a bolide. Of the remaining ⅕, more than ¾ of it is essentially “beyond the horizon” of people who might be able to report it, especially if at the lower end of the explosive-energy release spectrum.

So… Let's do a little simple math. The impact energy will be directly related to d³ (third power of diameter). Let's say Chelyabinsk was 500 kT or better, 0.5 MT (not metric ton, but megaton):

meter      megaton      megaton     kilometer
diameter   kinetic E    airburst    crater
2          0.001        0.001        0  daily, around world
3.3        0.002        0.002        0  trivial
4          0.004        0.004        0  very small
5          0.008        0.008        0  small
6.5        0.017        0.017        0  notable
8          0.032        0.032        0  notable
10         0.063        0.063        0  scary, but safe
13         0.14         0.14         0  window breaker
16         0.26         0.26         0
20         0.5          0.5          0  Chelyabinsk
25         1.0          1.0          0
33         2.2          1.5          0.7  town killer
40         4.0          2.0          0.9  suburb killer
50         7.8          2.8          1.3  city killer
65         17           4            1.8  Tunguska
80         32           6            2.2  
100        63           8            2.8  metro region killer
125        122          11           4    State disruption
160        256          16           5    Country disruption
200        500          22           6
250        977          31           7    SubContinent disruption
330        2,246        47           10   Civilization threat
400        4,000        63           12   Civilization challenge
500        7,813        88           15   Civilization disruption
650        17,164       131          19   Extinction threat
800        32,000       179          24   Extinction challenge
1,000      62,500       250          30   Climate change
1,250      122,070      349          37   Climate oveturn
1,600      256,000      506          48   Regional extinction
2,000      500,000      707          59   
2,500      976,563      988          74   Extinction event
3,300      2,246,063    1,499        98
4,000      4,000,000    2,000        119
5,000      7,812,500    2,795        149  Apocalyptic Extinction Event
6,500      17,164,063   4,143        193  Sterilization threat
8,000      32,000,000   5,657        238
10,000     62,500,000   7,906        298  Planetary sterilization

CLEARLY we don't want to be anywhere near the bottom of the list. Too much bad shite happening down there. The above calculations are my own, based on scope-and-consequence models from around the Net. The assessments of “damage” are also my own. Goat's scale.

Well there's your Friday Fodder.


Child Mortality in India still needs a lot of improvement

Child Mortality in India is improving but has a long way to go.

India has shown real progress in reducing child mortality over the past decade. According to the United Nations, in 2001, 2.5 million Indian children under the age of 5 died. In 2012, 1.5 million died. This is good news, but India alone still accounts for 20 percent of child mortality worldwide — and a shocking 48 percent of Indian children under the age of 5 are chronically malnourished.

According to the World Bank, India’s under-5 child mortality rate in 2012 was 56 deaths per 1,000, far short of the country’s goal of reducing child mortality to 39 per 1,000 by 2015. By comparison, the child mortality rate in 2012 in Bangladesh was 41; in Brazil, 14; and in the United States, 7. China is at 14 per 1000 with about 258,000 deaths. France is at 4 and Finland is at 3.

World Health Organization statistics on 5 and under child mortality.

Over 70% of all under-five deaths occur in WHO African and South-East Asia regions. Children in sub-Saharan Africa are over 16 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in developed regions. About half of under-five deaths occur in only five countries:
India     1,414,000  (population 1.26 billion)
Nigeria     827,000  (population 170 million, high fertility rate about 5.38)
Pakistan    409,000  (population 180 million)
Congo       391,000  (population 74 million)
China       258,000  (population 1.35 billion)
* 6.6 million children under the age of five died in 2012.
* More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions.
* Leading causes of death in under-five children are pneumonia, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, diarrhoea and malaria. About 45% of all child deaths are linked to malnutrition.
* Children in sub-Saharan Africa are about over 16 times more likely to die before the age of five than children in developed regions.

Where are Google's Secret Data Centers ? Ask Domino's Pizza

The best trick for locating secret Google facilities might by the one revealed by ex-Googler talentlessclown on reddit.

The easiest way to find manned Google data centres is to ask taxi drivers and pizza delivery people.

Google previously was using about 215 watts per server.

By the end of 2013, the total amount of money they've pumped into their datacenters will be three or four times what it was as of 2010. They've contracted to buy over three hundred megawatts of power at just three sites, which is more than they used for all their operations in 2010.

Based on datacenter power usage and spending estimates, my guess would be that Google is currently running—or will soon be running—between 1.8 and 2.4 million servers.

Discovery of three large, near-Earth asteroids from 1 mile to 12 miles in diameter and research indicates small asteroid strikes are ten times more common than previously thought

Three large, near-Earth asteroids, two of which measure about 12 miles in diameter — are the largest near earth asteroids to have been discovered in 23 years. The smallest of the three asteroids measures little more than a mile across, but it may pass within 3.4 million miles of Earth, making it a “potentially hazardous asteroid.”

When an asteroid exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in February, shattering windows for miles and injuring well over 1,000 people, experts said it was a rare event — of a magnitude that might occur only once every 100 to 200 years, on average. But now a team of scientists is suggesting that the Earth is vulnerable to many more Chelyabinsk-size space rocks than was previously thought. In research being published Wednesday by the journal Nature, they estimate that such strikes could occur as often as every decade or two

Nature - The trajectory, structure and origin of the Chelyabinsk asteroidal impactor.

Nature - A 500-kiloton airburst over Chelyabinsk and an enhanced hazard from small impactors

“One kilometer is more than just dangerous,” said Edward T. Lu, a former NASA space shuttle astronaut who heads the B612 Foundation, a private effort to launch a space telescope that could find smaller asteroids. “One kilometer is end-of-human-civilization kind of dangerous.”

The Chelyabinsk asteroid was just 60 feet wide. Speeding around 40,000 miles per hour, it released energy equal to 500,000 tons of TNT. A larger asteroid, perhaps two or three times the diameter of the Chelyabinsk one, exploded over Siberia in 1908 and is estimated to have released energy equivalent to 5 million to 15 million tons of TNT, flattening millions of trees.

The proposed B612 telescope, to be called Sentinel, is intended to find asteroids about 450 feet wide, although it will also find many that are smaller. Dr. Lu said the mission would cost $450 million — $250 million to build the spacecraft and $200 million to operate it for a decade.

A 450-foot-wide asteroid, Dr. Lu said, would be equivalent to 150 million tons of TNT. “You’re not going to wipe out humanity,” he said, “but if you get unlucky, you could kill 50 million people or you could collapse the world economy for a century, two centuries.

Smooth sections on asteroid Itokawa are shown. Image: ISAS/JAX

Chat with Lockheed Martin and Dwave Quantum Computer Experts via Twitter

Join quantum computing experts from Lockheed Martin, the University of Southern California and D-Wave Systems as they “borrow” their companies’ Twitter accounts to discuss the latest in speedy qubits and the quantum evolution.

Tweet your questions to @LockheedMartin, @USCViterbi or @dwavesys with the #QuantumChat hashtag starting Nov. 7. @LockheedMartin will moderate the chat and pose questions beginning at 1 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Nov. 14. Questions will be selected from those tweeted with the #QuantumChat hashtag between now and the end of the chat.

A Chat transcript will be at storify. Storify has other Lockheed chat transcripts like talks about F-35 and other topics.

Dwave was also featured on TV show NOVA

Marvel Defenders will attempt a mini-Avengers via Netflix

Disney and Netflix will team on four thirteen-episode series, plus one mini-series. The four series are Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage, culminating in an Avengers-style team-up mini-series called The Defenders.

This will be like a mini-version of what was done in the movies with individual Avengers movies (Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor and then the Avengers movie).

Disney CEO Bob Iger called the four properties in the Netflix deal - Daredevil, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist - “not among the most popular," adding they "were never going to become feature films.”

The online Hollywood trade goes on to report Iger said that could change if the shows catch on with viewers, making the deal “great for Netflix” and opening “a great opportunity for Marvel to create more brand value…There are more opportunities beyond our platform to produce product for.”

November 07, 2013

Technical and Economic Takeoff for AGI and Molecular nanotechnology revisited

In 2010, J Storrs Hall discussed the technical and economic takeoff of AGI (Artificial general intelligence) and molecular nanotechnology.
Here is a quick review of Storrs view of technical takeoff and applying that to Molecular nanotechnology and general AI.

Technical Takeoff
-Embodies the essential function of the proposed technology
-is proof that the concept works
- focuses technical effort
-is a vehicle for practical experience
- attracts financial (etc) resources
-forms a crack in the dam

Molecular Nanotechnology

Inspiration - Life
Theoretical Underpinnings - molecular biology, chemistry, mechanical engineer
Experimentation - nanodevices, positional chemistry, atomically precise fabrication (we are here)
Technical takeoff point - molecular machine tools
Economic takeoff point - nanofactories, molecular-level recycling, cheap devices

General AI

Inspiration Brains
Theoretical Underpinnings -computation, control theory, neuro and psych
Experimentation - computers, software, networks, complex systems
Technical takeoff point - self improving software
Economic takeoff point - robust, trainable AI, useful robots, robo-cars, natural language interfaces

It appears that we will be getting adequate robotic cars, adequate natural language interfaces and useful robots without full AGI.

We also appear likely to get significant quantities of near full strength macro scale graphene. Availability of super-strong material will allow systems to be built that will have capabilities enabled with materials that are ten times stronger.

New Technological and Social Impact with analysis of communication from telegraph to holographic systems

It is difficult to assess the impact of new technology because it is not just the capabilities of the new technology but how much better it is than the mainstream technology that is being replaced. It is the capability differential and the increase in the number of people who can use it. We can see this with the history and future of communications technology.

Elon University of Communication looks backward 150 years and forward 150 years for communication

Landline Phones
Mobile Phones

Here is discussion of the changes in the world with the Telegraph.

Prior to the telegraph, communication in the 1830s was about the same as it had been in the years just after Gutenberg's invention of the printing press. It took days, weeks, and even months for messages to be sent from one location to a far-flung position. After the telegraph cable was stretched from coast to coast in the 1850s, a message from London to New York could be sent in mere minutes, and the world suddenly became much smaller.

Prior to the telegraph, politics and business were constrained by geography. The world was divided into isolated regions. There was limited knowledge of national or international news, and that which was shared was generally quite dated. After the telegraph, the world changed. It seemed as if information could flow like water.

By the 1850s, predictions about the impact of the new medium began to abound. The telegraph would alter business and politics. It would make the world smaller, erase national rivalries and contribute to the establishment of world peace. It would make newspapers obsolete. All of the same statements were made in the 1990s by people who were wowed by the first-blush potential of the Internet.

November 06, 2013

Tiny laser gives big boost to high speed data transmission

High-speed communication just got a turbo boost, thanks to a new laser technology developed at the University of Illinois that transmits error-free data over fiber optic networks at a blazing fast 40 gigabits per second – the fastest in the United States.

As computation shifts into the petascale and beyond, processor speeds have outstripped transfer speeds, creating a bottleneck and hindering applications. Anyone who has tried to stream video over a dial-up Internet connection knows that the fastest processor won’t help the file load quicker. And in the age of “big data” and cloud computing, there’s a lot of information swirling among servers.

Laser devices called oxide VCSELs are used to transmit data over fiber optic cables at high speed. They can carry data faster and in greater quantities than traditional electrical cables.

“The oxide VCSEL is the standard right now for industry,” Feng said. “Today, all the optical interconnects use this technology. The world is in a competition on how to make it fast and efficient, and that’s what this technology is. At the U. of I., we were able to make this technology the fastest in the U.S.”

850nm Oxide-Confined VCSEL with low Relative Intensity Noise and 40Gb/s Error Free Data Transmission

Call of Duty Ghosts sells over $1 billion on its first day

Call of Duty Ghosts has sold over $1 billion on its opening day.

In September, 2013, Grand Theft Auto 5 had a opening day of $800 million in worldwide video game sales. The record in 2012 was $500 million Activision's Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, and beaten in a single day the $500m in revenue which Grand Theft Auto's fourth installment generated in its first week nearly five years ago.

The biggest opening weekend for movies is $483 million in 2011 for the last Harry Potter movies.

Stable three-dimensional metallic carbon with interlocking hexagons

Carbon is an amazing material: it not only forms the chemical basis for all known life but also, because of its rich physics and chemistry, displays an array of structures: from the age-old graphite and diamond to more recent C60 fullerene, 1D nanotube, and 2D graphene. One of the unsolved issues in carbon science has been to find a 3D form of carbon that is metallic under ambient conditions. This paper addresses this important challenge. Using state-of-the-art theoretical calculations, we predict the existence of such a phase that is formed from interlocking hexagons and is dynamically, mechanically, and thermally stable. It is suggested that this new form of carbon may be synthesized chemically by using benzene or polyacenes molecules.

“The new metallic carbon structures may have important applications in lightweight metals for space applications, catalysis and in devices showing negative differential resistance or superconductivity,” Wang said.

According to Jena, the team is still early in its discovery process, but hope that these findings may move the work from theory to the experimental phase.

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics November update on Nuclear Fusion project

Summary of the November update on the Focus Fusion project:

* Two tests indicate that a new design for a Tungsten component should succeed in solving current inpurity problems
* Pinch timing measures impurities and sparks international project
* Laser experiment gives new visibility to pB11 fusion
* Italian physicist analyses Focus Fusion, sees promise
* Motherboard features LPP’s role in fusion race

New laboratory tests on the existing tungsten plate in FF-1’s (Focus Fusion-1 is the prototype fusion machine) cathode (outer electrode) have increased LPP (Lawrenceville Plasma Physics) researchers’ confidence that the planned all-tungsten electrodes will both cure the impurity problem and survive many shots. In the first test, the LPP team measured how much erosion had occurred on the tips of the tungsten teeth where the current starts to flow. These tips suffer from the highest erosion of any parts of the cathode, because of the high concentration of current to which they are exposed. The team compared enlargements of photographs of the tip of the teeth taken when the plate was first installed in November, 2012, with photographs taken this month, after some 340 shots had been fired.

Photos of several different teeth failed to show any measurable erosion. If erosion from the anode is approximately as great, an upper limit on total impurity from the tungsten amounts to only about one tungsten ion for every 8,000 deuterium ions, well within the limits that LPP has calculated will be acceptable and have no significant effect on the plasma’s properties. By contrast, the present silver-plated copper electrodes erode so rapidly that there is about one impurity ion for every 50-70 deuterium ions. So the tungsten electrode is expected to lead to a 100-fold drop in impurity levels.

November 05, 2013

"Singularity or Bust" film now online

A film about the Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) researcher Ben Goertzel is now available online. Goertzel has spent the past two decades pondering the question of how to impart sentience and broad intelligence to machines, and he is now considered an authority on the subject. Goertzel is chiefly responsible for developing the OpenCOG architecture, which he believes could with sufficient resources and funding scale to human-levels of intelligence. Goertzel is currently collaborating with David Hanson to create an android with a modicum of intelligence. Goertzel is confident that with $25 million he could create an "AI Toddler" within five years.

Goertzel is not alone in his view that AGI could be near. Peter Voss, as well as Itamar Arel and of course Ray Kurzweil have made similar claims.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on ycombinator or StumbleUpon. Thanks

Neurocam is a wearable camera that detects your emotions to automatically record what your interested in

The "neurocam" is a wearable camera system that detects your emotions. It automatically records moments of interest based on an analysis of the users brainwaves. It is a mood camera.

This is an extraordinary experiment that challenges the way future cameras can evolve and how humans may interact with such devices. The "neurocam" allows humans emotions to become integrated with devices, and we see this as a totally new experience. We believe that in the future, home electronics, facilities, services will seamlessly merge "thought" and "emotions" with the human body as an emotional interface, such as what the "neurocam" sets out to achieve.

The analytics algorithm is based on the sensitivity vales of "interest" and "like" developed by Professor Mitsukura of Keio University and was co-developed with the neurowear team especially for the neurocam. The users interests are quantified on a range of 0 to 100. The smartphone camera is triggered to automatically record and save 5 second GIF clips of scenes when the interest value exceeds 60. The scene is saved together with timestamp and location, and can be replayed in the album function. Scenes can also be taken manually under the "manual mode". It can also be shared socially on Facebook.

Combining nuclear with artificial geothermal, shale oil, or hydrogen production could help slow climate change

MIT’s Charles Forsberg has a new ambitious idea: He proposes marrying a nuclear powerplant with another energy system, which he argues could add up to much more than the sum of its parts.

Now may be just the time for this new approach, Forsberg says. “As long as you had inexpensive fossil fuels available for electricity demand, there was no reason to think about it,” he says. But now, with the need to address climate change, curb greenhouse gas emissions, and secure greater energy independence, creative new ideas are at a premium.

While nuclear plants are good at producing steady power at relatively low cost, their output cannot rapidly be ramped up and down. Meanwhile, renewable energy sources are also good at producing power at low operating cost, but their output is unpredictable. Fossil fuel plants can easily be switched on or off as needed, but have higher operating costs and produce greenhouse gas emissions.

One solution, Forsberg suggests, is to find a way to divert excess power from a nuclear plant, making it a “dispatchable” source of electricity — one that can easily be ramped up and down to balance the disparities between production and demand.

The paper outlines three concepts, which Forsberg says could have potential in the coming decades. They involve pairing a nuclear plant with an artificial geothermal storage system, a hydrogen production plant, or a shale-oil recovery operation.

Energy Policy - Hybrid systems to address seasonal mismatches between electricity production and demand in nuclear renewable electrical grids

November 04, 2013

Helium filled harddrives with 6 Terabytes and 20 percent less power usage than conventional drives

Data-storage company HGST has begun making a six-terabyte helium hard drive that has a 50 percent greater storage capacity and uses about 20 percent less power than conventional hard drives. The secret to this leap forward in performance? Pumping the drives full of helium.

Tens of billions of earth sized planets in the habitable zone

Based on a statistical analysis of all the Kepler observations, astronomers at UC Berkeley and University of Hawaii, Manoa now estimate that one in five stars like the sun have planets about the size of Earth and a surface temperature conducive to life.

Given that about 20 percent of stars are sun-like, the researchers say, that amounts to several tens of billions of potentially habitable, Earth-size planets in the Milky Way Galaxy.

“When you look up at the thousands of stars in the night sky, the nearest sun-like star with an Earth-size planet in its habitable zone is probably only 12 light years away and can be seen with the naked eye. That is amazing,” said UC Berkeley graduate student Erik Petigura, who led the analysis of the Kepler data.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since the discovery of the first extrasolar planet around a normal star. Since then, we have learned that most stars have planets of some size orbiting them, and that Earth-size planets are relatively common in close-in orbits that are too hot for life,” said Andrew Howard, a former UC Berkeley post-doctoral fellow who is now on the faculty of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. “With this result, we’ve come home, in a sense, by showing that planets like our Earth are relatively common throughout the Milky Way Galaxy

Multiphoton lasers might distinguish bad proteins of Alzheimers and Parkisons and photo acoustic therapy could remove the bad proteins for cures

Researchers have made a discovery that may lead to the curing of diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the so called mad cow disease) through photo therapy. It is possible to distinguish aggregations of the proteins, believed to cause the diseases, from the the well-functioning proteins in the body by using multi-photon laser technique.

If the protein aggregates are removed, the disease is in principle cured. The problem until now has been to detect and remove the aggregates.

The researchers now harbor high hopes that photo acoustic therapy, which is already used for tomography, may be used to remove the malfunctioning proteins. Today amyloid protein aggregates are treated with chemicals, both for detection as well as removal. These chemicals are highly toxic and harmful for those treated.

With multi photon laser the chemical treatment would be unnecessary. Nor would surgery be necessary for removing of aggregates. Due to this discovery it might, thus, be possible to remove the harmful protein without touching the surrounding tissue.

Nature Photonics - Multiphoton absorption in amyloid protein fibres

Graphene lasers for efficient terahertz pulses

A team headed by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter in Hamburg have demonstrated that graphene meets an important condition for use in novel lasers for terahertz pulses with long wavelengths. The direct emission of terahertz radiation would be useful in science, but no laser has yet been developed which can provide it. Theoretical studies have previously suggested that it could be possible with graphene. However, there were well-founded doubts - which the team in Hamburg has now dispelled. At the same time, the scientists discovered that the scope of application for graphene has its limitations though: in further measurements, they showed that the material cannot be used for efficient light harvesting in solar cells.

Until now, terahertz pulses have only been generated via inefficient non-linear optical processes. However, the forbidden band in graphene is infinitesimal. “Nevertheless, the electrons in graphene behave similarly to those of a classic semiconductor”, Isabella Gierz says. To a certain extent, graphene could be thought of as a zero-bandgap semiconductor. Because of the absence of a bandgap, the population inversion in graphene only lasts for around 100 femtoseconds, less than a trillionth of a second. “That is why graphene cannot be used for continuous lasers, but potentially for ultrashort laser pulses”, Gierz explains.

Emitting flashes of light: Graphene, a honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms, is a suitable material for lasers emitting ultrashort terahertz pulses. © Joerg M. Harms

Toronto tailors make a modern and stylish $20,000 carbon nanotube custom tailored bulletproof pinstripe suits

At Garrison Bespoke, they take pride in building relationships and trust with each and every one of our clients. That’s why, this year, it was crucial that they offer their clients a bullet-proof suit to keep them safe during their travels to dangerous places for work. They wanted to create a lightweight garment that not only looks professional, but can also act as reliable body armor.

This past year, Garrison Bespoke worked alongside suppliers for the US 19th Special Forces in developing the custom bulletproof suit. Using nanotechnology, it’s comprised of the same carbon nanotubes designed for the US troops’ uniforms in Iraq. Yet, the patented suit material is a lot thinner and flexible; fifty percent lighter than Kevlar (the material commonly used in bullet-proof gear). The entire suit acts like a shield, with nanotubes in the fabric hardening to block force from penetrating through.

The Garrison Bespoke bullet proof suit was made to fulfill three important expectations:
1) be modern and stylish.
2) be light and comfortable.
3) be reliable and safe. After putting the suit to test, they can proudly say that all expectations have been met.

India launching a Mars Orbitor in the first week of November for arrival at Mars on 21st Sept 2014

India is preparing to send a robotic spacecraft into orbit around Mars.

India plans to launch a Mars orbiter from Sriharikota in the east coast of India in the first week of November and then the PSLV-XL (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle) is used for the launch which will put this orbiter into an elliptical orbit around the Earth... then around the last week of November, we have a crucial operation, it's called the "trans-Martian injection" where the spacecraft is directed towards Mars.

Then it is a long voyage of 300 days where the orbiter spacecraft passes through the sphere of influence of the Earth... Then it goes through a long phase of heliocentric flight where the orbiter spacecraft will be influenced not only by the Sun but by the other planets too. Then as it approaches Mars... we have another major action: capturing the orbit of Mars, which is on 21st of September 2014.

The Self Driving car revolution should begin with Trucks

Nextbigfuture was looking at how and where to operate robotic cars to accelerate their introduction back in 2008. Robotic car only zones in city centers would have enabled robotic cars to have more simplified and controlled environments to navigate. We had also looked at having robotic cars waiting or going to users. Robotic electric cars can go to a charging station when not carrying passengers. The robotic car only areas could encompass an entire city.

Brad Templeton was also looking at robocars back in 2008. He was considering Whistlecars.

Perspective Zoom credits Koushik Dutta, when he posted 5 small paragraphs entitled “The Unintended Effects of Driverless Cars” in December 2011. Koushik pointed out the The Really Cool Thing was what happened when you weren’t in the car at all, when you got to point B and didn’t have to park and leave it there for the rest of the day. The car could instead be directed to, say, take your kid to soccer practice. A single vehicle would ably serve as the sole vehicle for an entire family. Or maybe three families.

Brad pointed all this out in more detail in 2008 and 2009.

Nextbigfuture has noted how robotic trucks have already arrived. The city center exclusion zone where only robotic cars were allowed as an early introduction is like businesses who control large mining work areas or roads and highways only to transport mining material from a mine to a factory.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 181

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 181 is up Atomic Power Review

Brave New Climate looks at radiation damage to DNA. Researchers last year at MIT subjected mice to 400 times the background rate of radiation for about 6 months. They estimated it would add 12 pieces of extra damage every day to each normal 10,000 pieces in each cell (this number includes more types of damage than just DSBs - Double Strand Breaks). As far as the researchers could tell, any extra damage was completely repaired. But humans aren’t mice … and we particularly don’t get cancer like mice. We get about half as much cancer despite living 20 times longer.

So, how many times would you need to increase background radiation to have it cause a similar number of DSBs to the ones produced daily by normal processes within our cells? Between 200,000 and 300,000 times. To get an idea of how big this is, think about the average radiation dose received by survivors of Hiroshima. Now get this Hiroshima dose 7 to 10 times every single day. That’s the kind of normal DNA damage your cells deal with every single day. Currently the Japanese Government forbids people to live in any area around Fukushima where they might get more than 8 times normal background levels of radiation.

One-Dimensional Graphene Electrical Contact

Columbia Engineering researchers have experimentally demonstrated for the first time that it is possible to electrically contact an atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) material only along its one-dimensional (1D) edge, rather than contacting it from the top, which has been the conventional approach. With this new contact architecture, they have developed a new assembly technique for layered materials that prevents contamination at the interfaces, and, using graphene as the model 2D material, show that these two methods in combination result in the cleanest graphene yet realized.

After first encapsulating graphene in boron nitride, the multilayer stack is etched to expose only the very edge of the two-dimensional graphene layer. Electrical contact is then made by metalizing along this one-dimensional edge. Credit: Columbia Engineering; Illustration, Cory Dean

Science - One-Dimensional Electrical Contact to a Two-Dimensional Material

November 03, 2013

Expectations of large Reforms in China next weekend

The road map Mr Xi (China's leader) will submit to the third plenum has been months in the making. It draws on the advice of China’s ministries and the wider network of official research institutes and think-tanks. To knit it together, Mr Xi has appointed Liu He, a thoughtful, reform-minded policy adviser who was educated at Harvard’s Kennedy School and whom Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution once compared to Larry Summers, the academic who became Barack Obama’s economic guru. As a technocrat, Mr Liu has no power to impose his own ideas. But in picking him, Mr Xi clearly endorses some of the things he stands for.

Mr Liu used to work for the Development Research Centre (DRC), an official think-tank serving China’s cabinet. He had a hand in the “China 2030” report published last year by the DRC and the World Bank, which detailed the reforms China would need over the next two decades. In recent days China’s media has been abuzz with another DRC reform plan, known as the “383” plan, which is equally ambitious. It sets out three overarching reform principles (“effective markets require effective states and vice versa” is one), no fewer than eight reform priorities (cutting red tape, breaking up monopolies, reforming land ownership, liberalising finance, reforming the public finances, reforming state-owned enterprises, promoting innovation and opening up to foreign investment) and three broad strategies for achieving them.

The DRC is free to espouse what is desirable without much concern for political feasibility. Mr Liu no longer enjoys that luxury.

Solar - Electric Ion Engines Designed with Simple to Advanced Molecular Nanotechnology Requirements

Tom McKendree has written many major papers on the performance improvements that can be achieved by applying molecular nanotechnology to space systems.

Tom McKendree is now working at Raytheon and has an updated analysis of solar electric ion engines using different levels of molecular nanotechnology (none, simple, complex and advanced)

Technology Levels

— Current Technology

Simple MNT
— Any Stable Simple Pattern of Atoms

Complex MNT
— Any Molecular Machinery, Except Molecular Manufacturing in the Field

Most Advanced MNT
— Any Molecular Machinery
– Molecular Manufacturing in the Field Enables Bootstrapping,Self-Repair, and Very Low Manufacturing Costs

Solar - Electric Ion Engines Using Molecular Nanotechnology (20 pages)

Just using the materials possible with molecular nanotechnology it is possible to get up to 0.08% of lightspeed with 15% of one gravity acceleration using only solar powered ion drives.

Joe Eck has superconductor at the European hottest outdoor temperature of 48 celsius

Superconductors.ORG reports the discovery of two new room-temperature superconductors with record high transitions near 48 Celsius (118F, 321K) and 44 Celsius (111F, 317K). The chemical formulas of these materials are Tl6Ba4SiCu9O18+ and Tl5Ba4SiCu8O16+ respectively. These are the ninth and tenth superconductors found to have transition temperatures above room temperature.

Since dozens of new superconductors have already been found through the application of planar weight disparity (PWD) along the "C" axis, an effort was made to further increase the unit cell size and planar weight ratios (PWR) of materials already producing extraordinarily high transition temperatures. In the first compound, barium (Ba) was substituted into the tin (Sn) atomic sites of the 42 C superconductor discovered in September. This produced a 44 Celsius critical transition temperature. Then, in the second compound, the lattice was expanded to near 33 Angstroms by inserting another Tl and another CuO2 layer. This altered the structure from a D212 to an F212. That material produced a record Meissner transition near 48 Celsius.

Wikipedia has a list of the highest temperatures ever recorded at different locations. 48C is the highest temperature on record for Europe.

Near term ideas and tests for powerbeaming to reduce complexity, overall mass or provide propulsion and to create enduring space infrastructure

Unbundling power systems can significantly reduce the design, integration, operations, maintenance, enhancement, and/or evolution challenges for a spacecraft. As we transition from building one-off spacecraft to enduring infrastructure managing the cost, schedule, and technical risk of each of these aspects of a program becomes ever more critical.

The mass and volume associated with the power system of a spacecraft is a material fraction of the overall budgets for the spacecraft. A material reduction can facilitate doing more with less.

The ability to optimize a power system of a spacecraft to provide an additional change in velocity at opportune moments can materially alter the operational constraints on a spacecraft.

Xtraordinary Innovative Space Partnerships wants to test various forms of powerbeaming from the international space station to various cubesats.

Design of an unmanned interstellar probe using near term technology

A Munich Ghost Team has submitted their concept for a space probe to Alpha Centauri.

The Ghost Ship uses one single fusion propulsion stage for acceleration and deceleration. Deceleration is further supported by a magnetic sail system, which uses the drag of interstellar hydrogen acting on a magnetic field which decelerates the spacecraft. The fusion propulsion system is based on Deuterium – Deuterium inertial confinement fusion. Inertial confinement fusion is based on compressing a tiny pellet of fusion fuel by an ignition system, in our case a number of lasers. The fuel is compressed by these very high-power lasers to such a degree that fusion can occur. The team decided to use Deuterium – Deuterium, as Deuterium – Tritium would use large amounts of Tritium, which decays quite rapidly. This means that a prohibitively large amount of Tritium has to be stored on-board of the spacecraft. Deuterium – Helium 3 was discarded due to the difficulties associated with mining Helium 3 from the Moon or the gas giant planets.

The fusion ignition system is based on the fast ignition scheme. The beauty of this ignition scheme lies in the decoupling of compression and ignition of a fuel pellet. Without decoupling, a lot of energy is needed to create fusion conditions within the pellet purely by compression. It is like igniting a rod of dynamite by pinching it. It is possible but you need to pinch it very strongly. What you use instead is a “fuse”: a secondary high-power laser, which pierces the pellet and ignites it. In this way, you get the same amount of energy out of the pellet by using a lot less energy for compression and ignition.

However, in order to charge the lasers, you would still need a very large and heavy power source. So we used a “trick” to circumvent this requirement. We thought about using the fusion reaction itself as a power source. Thus, we would use the previous fusion reaction for igniting the next one. However, this is still difficult to do and large capacitor banks that store the energy would be needed. However, we found another trick. The Deuterium – Deuterium reaction produces a large amount of neutrons. Neutrons are uncharged particles. This means that they fly away in all directions. Thus, they do not contribute to thrust, as for generating thrust, particles would have to be ejected into one specific direction. So is there a possibility to use these neutrons for power generation? It would be ideal, as they would be otherwise lost. Surprisingly, there is a way to use neutrons for power generation: the nuclear-powered laser. Nuclear-powered lasers directly convert neutron energy into laser energy.

Interstellar nanosat project for affordably incrementally proving out technology for interstellar and precursor missions

Project Tin Tin is a mission profile and spacecraft design feasibility program which aims to establish the science, propulsion, communications, power and materials which will be used to build interstellar precursor missions using cubesats. The mission objectives are (a) to establish a program of utilizing space systems miniaturization technologies, (b) to create a template mission and spacecraft package for space -proofing interstellar systems and (c) to launch the first ever interstellar spacecraft to Alpha Centauri. In this paper and presentation we establish that an interstellar journey to our nearest star is feasible within 25,000 years using current technology, cutting Voyager’s best time to a nearest star by a factor of 1/3, with reasonable room for improvements.

They will being launching cubesat systems in 2015.

The Isp being of the order 3500-4500s is clearly within the reach of current technology, while significantly higher specific impulses have been reported of the order of 10,000 -30,000 s in some laboratory case studies supported by engineering data. At Isp ~15,000 s the trip to Alpha Centauri can be halved to 12,500 years compared to our case study above. With these figures the engine’s jet power which tends to ~50W,the specific power of the power source would have to increase by a factor of 7 to about ~50 W/kg.

Alpha Centauri is about 270,000 AU away. A 12,500 year trip time to that distance would mean about 46 years to 1000 AU (Oort comet cloud) or 23 years to 500 AU (gravitational lensing).

100,000 ISP ion drive is in development in Austria. This could be about 4,000 years to Alpha Centauri or 8 years to 500 AU. There would also need to be a high density power source.

Interstellar mission spaceship designs require tens of megawatts per kilogram of power density

Project Icarus: Specific Power for Interstellar Missions Using Inertial Confinement Fusion Propulsion

Current chemical energy systems yield low specific energy which lead to energy conversion systems with a low performance design, less than 10 km/s.

Higher specific power drastically shortens mission times.

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