November 16, 2013

3D Metal printer for $1000

The Mini Metal Maker prints 3D objects from digital files directly in precious metal clay, rather than in plastic. Once these clay objects air-dry, they are fired in a kiln to produce beautiful solid metal objects of high purity and precision. Using metal clay essentially replaces the entire wax-casting or lost-wax process ordinarily needed to do this. The Mini Metal Maker will add new capability for the DIY inventor or artist by making fabrication in metal easy and direct. It will be a boon for anyone interested in creating their own gears, miniature mechanisms, or printing detailed jewelry or metal ornaments. The Mini Metal Maker is built around the concept of using the minimum number of parts, reducing the cost to produce and also eliminating many chances for error during assembly. 

They have raised about $7500 out of $10,000 to improve the precision from 500 microns to 200 microns.

Energy Information Administration estimates Bakken will produce over 1 million barrels per day next month

The latest monthly update of estimated crude oil production in the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana shows total wellhead output topping 1 million barrels of oil per day (bbl/d) in December, 2013. The update appears in the most recent issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Drilling Productivity Report (DPR).

The Bakken region now accounts for a little over 10% of total U.S. oil production and is expected to be the fourth region (along with the Gulf of Mexico, Eagle Ford, and Permian basins) producing more than 1 million bbl/d in the nation in December.

North Dakota produced 932,174 barrels of oil per day in Sept, 2013.

November 15, 2013

Preclinical testing shows SUMO-1 gene therapy shrinks an enlarged heart, improves heart function, and blood flow, human trials to start

Researchers at the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai have successfully tested a powerful gene therapy, delivered directly into the heart, to reverse heart failure in large animal models.

Preclinical testing shows SUMO-1 gene therapy shrinks an enlarged heart, improves heart function, and blood flow. Heart failure affects roughly 5.7 million people in the United States, most commonly the elderly. The condition may require a range of treatment, depending on the severity: doctors may tell patients with moderate cases simply to exercise more or to change their diets, while more severe cases could require implanted devices or even a heart transplant. If successful in human trials, the latest treatment methods would be direct and effective, rather than relying on roundabout lifestyle changes or expensive, intrusive technology.

Dr. Hajjar is the scientific cofounder of the company Celladon, which plans to develop AAV.SERCA2a gene therapy for the treatment of heart failure

Cardio Vascular Diseases (CVD) are the number one cause of death globally: more people die annually from CVDs than from any other cause. An estimated 17.3 million people died from CVDs in 2008, representing 30% of all global deaths. Of these deaths, an estimated 7.3 million were due to coronary heart disease

The new research study findings, published in November 13 issue of Science Translational Medicine, is the final study phase before human clinical trials can begin testing SUMO-1 gene therapy. SUMO-1 is a gene that is "missing in action" in heart failure patients.

"SUMO-1 gene therapy may be one of the first treatments that can actually shrink enlarged hearts and significantly improve a damaged heart's life-sustaining function," says the study's senior investigator Roger J. Hajjar, MD, Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai. "We are very eager to test this gene therapy in our patients suffering from severe heart failure."

Heart failure remains a leading cause of hospitalization in the elderly. It accounts for about 300,000 deaths each year in the United States. Heart failure occurs when a person's heart is too weak to properly pump and circulate blood throughout their body.

Dr. Hajjar is already on a path toward approval from the Food and Drug Administration to test the novel SUMO-1 gene therapy in heart failure patients. When it begins, the clinical trial will be the second gene therapy treatment designed to reverse heart failure launched by Dr. Hajjar and his Cardiovascular Research Center at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.

AAV vectors are delivered through the coronary arteries of the failing heart delivering SUMO1 which in turns enhances the activity of SERCA2a. Credit: Mount Sinai

Gene therapy that targeted muscle disease did not require immunotherapy which would greatly reduce the cost and side effects of treatment

One method for gene therapy that targets problem genes in muscles did not require immunotherapy treatment. Removing the need for immunotherapy while still having effective gene therapy greatly reduces the cost and side effects of gene therapy.

Journal of Clinical Investigation - Human Treg responses allow sustained recombinant adeno-associated virus–mediated transgene expression

Recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) vectors have shown promise for the treatment of several diseases; however, immune-mediated elimination of transduced cells has been suggested to limit and account for a loss of efficacy. To determine whether rAAV vector expression can persist long term, we administered rAAV vectors expressing normal, M-type α-1 antitrypsin (M-AAT) to AAT-deficient subjects at various doses by multiple i.m. injections. M-specific AAT expression was observed in all subjects in a dose-dependent manner and was sustained for more than 1 year in the absence of immune suppression. Muscle biopsies at 1 year had sustained AAT expression and a reduction of inflammatory cells compared with 3 month biopsies. Deep sequencing of the TCR Vβ region from muscle biopsies demonstrated a limited number of T cell clones that emerged at 3 months after vector administration and persisted for 1 year. In situ immunophenotyping revealed a substantial Treg population in muscle biopsy samples containing AAT-expressing myofibers. Approximately 10% of all T cells in muscle were natural Tregs, which were activated in response to AAV capsid. These results suggest that i.m. delivery of rAAV type 1–AAT (rAAV1-AAT) induces a T regulatory response that allows ongoing transgene expression and indicates that immunomodulatory treatments may not be necessary for rAAV-mediated gene therapy.

If $82 billion is a pilot program for Chinese factory automation and robots then how many trillion dollars will the full national program be ?

Zhejiang, one province in China, will pilot a novel solution to rising worker wages: investing $82 billion over five years to help local factories partially automate production processes. In Zhejiang province, average assembly-line wages nearly tripled from 2005 to 2012, from $2,425 to $6,750 per year.

And Zhejiang officials aren’t alone in their thinking.

China is already the world’s fastest-growing market for industrial robots, according to the International Federation of Robotics, an industry group based in Germany. Robot sales to mainland China have increased 25 percent, on average, every year from 2005 to 2012, reaching 23,000 robots last year. Only Japan purchases more robots than China annually. The IFR predicts China will be the top market by 2016.

How many trillions will China spend for fully automated factories loaded with factory robots ?

This also answers any doubters of a heavily robotic future.

China will be attempting major reform of State Enterprises

On Friday, more details emerged on what exactly Beijing’s top leaders approved during their conference, and the pledged reforms are much meatier and potentially more powerful than anything previously suggested, and tackle some of the worst ills of the economy.

Most notably, there is finally talk about reforming China’s dominant state-owned enterprises, or SOEs. These behemoths suck up the nation’s resources and crowd out the private sector, though they are bloated, inefficient and hamper the development of the economy. Now Xi is planning to do something about that. Beijing pledged to end some monopolies, improve SOE management and allow the private sector to invest in projects with SOEs. Such steps could make SOEs more competitive and allow greater scope for more productive private enterprise. Xi also plans to liberalize prices on commodities like water and natural gas, as well as in transport and telecom; speed deregulation of interest rates and capital flows; reduce curbs on foreign investment; and allow private investors to set up small banks. All of this will expand the role of the private sector in the economy and permit resources to be allocated more intelligently.

What remains to be seen is how quickly these announced reforms will become reality, and how far they will really go. Some of this stuff has been talked about for a while – such as financial deregulation and market opening – but the pace of actual change has been glacial. In other areas, such as SOE reform, it is uncertain right now how much power the state is really willing to cede to the market and private enterprise.

China officially easing the one child policy to add 1-2 million births per year and ending re-education labor camps

The Chinese government will ease its one-child family size restrictions and abolish re-education through labor camps, significantly curtailing two policies that for decades have defined the state’s power to control citizens’ lives.

The changes were announced in a party decision that also laid out broad and potentially far-reaching proposals to restructure the economy by encouraging greater private participation in finance, vowing market competition in several important parts of the economy and promising farmers better property protection and compensation for confiscated land.

For decades, most urban couples have been restricted to having one child. That has been changing fitfully, with rules on the books that couples can have two children if both parents are single children. But that policy will be now be further relaxed nationwide. Many rural couples already have two, or sometimes more, children.

“This is the first time that a central document has clearly proposed allowing two children when a husband or wife is an only child,” said Wang Guangzhou, a demographer at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “Now it’s just talking about launching this, but the specific policies have to be developed at the operational level.”

If carried through, the relaxation would mark the first significant nationwide easing of family-size restrictions that have been in place since the 1970s, said Wang Feng, a demographer who teaches at both the University of California, Irvine, and Fudan University in Shanghai. He estimated the policy could lead to 1 to 2 million more births in China every year, on top of the approximately 15 million births a year now.

“This step is really, I think, the middle step toward allowing all couples to have two children, and eventually taking away the state’s hand,” said Professor Wang. “But this shift is historical, it’s fundamental. To change the mentality of the society of policy makers has taken people more than a decade.”

The change in the one child policy has been expected for many months. The expectation is that there will be shift to a complete two child policy in 2015 and a complete dropping of restrictions sometime after that.

An unrestricted two child policy would mean another 7.5 million births per year beyond this most recent easing.

John Slough Personally Explains his Fusion Rocket and Fusion Energy Systems in Videos and Presentations

John Slough gives a presentation of his direct fusion drive rocket and his fusion energy system.

* they create ionized gases in two regions
* they create plasmoids (balls out of the ionized gases)
* they use magnets to accelerate and collide the gas
* they implode a metal liner around the plasmoids
* they accelerate the imploded liner and plasmoid out of spaceship for propulsion at the desired speed of the ship

November 14, 2013

IBM announces Watson Developers Cloud for a new era of cognitive Apps starting in 2014

IBM today announced that, for the first time, it will make its IBM Watson technology available as a development platform in the cloud, to enable a worldwide community of software application providers to build a new generation of apps infused with Watson's cognitive computing intelligence.

The move aims to spur innovation and fuel a new ecosystem of entrepreneurial software application providers – ranging from start-ups and emerging, venture capital backed businesses to established players. Together with IBM, these business partners share a vision for creating a new class of cognitive applications that transform how businesses and consumers make decisions.

To bring this shared vision to life, IBM will be launching the IBM Watson Developers Cloud, a cloud-hosted marketplace where application providers of all sizes and industries will be able to tap into resources for developing Watson-powered apps. This will include a developer toolkit, educational materials and access to Watson's application programming interface (API).

IBM partners that build Watson-powered apps in the cloud will be able to choose from two sources of data-driven content, to prepare their apps to uncover insights for users. App providers can use their own company’s data, or access the IBM Watson Content Store, featuring third-party content that offers data-rich resources that can fuel Watson’s ever expanding knowledge.

Koreans say graphene supercapacitors are ready for electric cars

Conventional batteries take so long to charge that they cannot efficiently store braking energy. But now graphene supercapacitors that store almost as much but charge in just 16 seconds could do the job instead.

Now Santhakumar Kannappan at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in Korea and a few pals say they have a solution based on the wonder material of the moment–graphene. These guys have built high-performance supercapacitors out of graphene that store almost as much energy as a lithium-ion battery, can charge and discharge in seconds and maintain all this over many tens of thousands of charging cycles.

The trick these guys have perfected is to make a highly porous form of graphene that has a huge internal surface area. They create this graphene by reducing graphene oxide particles with hydrazine in water agitated with ultrasound.

The graphene powder is then packed into a coin-shaped cell, and dried at 140 degrees C and at a pressure of 300/kg/cm for five hours.

Arxiv - Graphene based Supercapacitors with Improved Specific Capacitance and Fast Charging Time at High Current Density

Large Graphene Crystals Grown for super fast electronics in relative near term and potential for superstrong materials later

Texas researchers used surface oxygen to grow centimeter-size single graphene crystals on copper. The crystals were about 10,000 times as large as the largest crystals from only four years ago. Very large single crystals have exceptional electrical properties.

One of the world’s strongest materials, graphene is flexible and has high electrical and thermal conductivity that makes it a promising material for flexible electronics, solar cells, batteries and high-speed transistors. The team’s understanding of how graphene growth is influenced by differing amounts of surface oxygen is a major step toward improved high-quality graphene films at industrial scale.

The team’s method “is a fundamental breakthrough, which will lead to growth of high-quality and large area graphene film,” said Sanjay Banerjee, who heads the Cockrell School’s South West Academy of Nanoelectronics (SWAN). “By increasing the single-crystal domain sizes, the electronic transport properties will be dramatically improved and lead to new applications in flexible electronics.”

Graphene has always been grown in a polycrystalline form, that is, it is composed of many crystals that are joined together with irregular chemical bonding at the boundaries between crystals (“grain boundaries”), something like a patch-work quilt. Large single-crystal graphene is of great interest because the grain boundaries in polycrystalline material have defects, and eliminating such defects makes for a better material.

“In the long run it might be possible to achieve meter-length single crystals,” Ruoff said. “This has been possible with other materials, such as silicon and quartz. Even a centimeter crystal size — if the grain boundaries are not too defective — is extremely significant."

“We can start to think of this material’s potential use in airplanes and in other structural applications — if it proves to be exceptionally strong at length scales like parts of an airplane wing, and so on,” he said.

US Crude Oil Production just short of 8 million barrels per day

US crude oil production is at 7.981 million barrels per day. This is the most since 1989.

12.8 million barrels per day of all oil liquids production
10.64 million barrels per day of crude oil and natural gas liquids

Canadian Province issues 2.5 billion in chinese yuan denominated bonds

Canada's western province of British Columbia said on November 5 it had completed the issuance of one-year offshore yuan-denominated bonds and raised 2.5 billion yuan.

This is the first time a foreign government has issued offshore yuan bonds. Mike de Jong, finance minister of Canada's westernmost province, said officials had intended to raise only 500 million yuan but the bonds were largely oversubscribed.

Central banks and foreign institutions snapped up 62 percent of the bonds. Fund asset managers bought 18 percent. Investors in Hong Kong took 46 percent of the bonds, and 40 percent went to U.S. investors.

The bonds carry a yield of 2.25 percent. This is 10 to 15 basis points lower than bonds sold by the Chinese government, said HSBC, the sole book runner of the issuance. The bonds will be listed in Luxembourg.

NASA quantum computer experts available for interviews next week

As of Nov. 13, 2013, NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field in California’s Silicon Valley will begin facilitating news media interviews about its new quantum computing efforts.

In a partnership with Google and independent, nonprofit research corporation Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Ames has established the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (QuAIL) at its NASA Advanced Supercomputing (NAS) facility. The laboratory houses a 512-qubit D-Wave Two™ quantum computer.

Lockheed quantum computer experts are available for questions via twitter today.

If the Lockheed and Dwave experts do not answer your questions then you can submit a question in the comments below and Nextbigfuture will compile and ask NASA next week.

Get Answers to questions about the Dwave Quantum Computer at the #quantumchat that starts in a few minutes

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.

Nextbigfuture announced this last week.

Bribes and hidden transaction make up at least 12% of China Economy and are not included in official GDP

China’s hidden household income totaled over 6.2 trillion yuan in 2011– accounting for 12 per cent of the country’s GDP – underlining the widespread impression corruption represents a “serious challenge” to society, a state-backed foundation’s study says.

Most of this undeclared personal or household income comes from undocumented sources and is held by a few individuals.

The study results estimated the 2012 per capita income of the richest 10 per cent of the urban population at 188,000 yuan – 3.2 times more than the official figure. The urban rich make almost 21 times more than the poorest members of society. Official figures placed the gap at 8.6 times.

The study concluded hidden income contributed to the huge gap between official figures and those generated by the survey.

“Corruption’s impact on society is expanding, posing a serious challenge to society,” Caixin quoted from the report.

Hidden income, also known as ‘grey income’, includes earnings ranging from utterly illegal activities such as bribes and off-book transactions, to gifts innocently given by parents to teachers.

The Translated Caixin article is here

A 2010 Credit Suisse study suggested that Chinese households are hiding 9.3 trillion yuan of grey income

China's Family Planners probably reluctant to completely give up One Child Policy Because of the Bribes

China will be fine-tuning One child policy according to a spokesman for China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Mao said a fine-tuning plan has been sent to the State Council and the question now is whether any change will be introduced nationwide or if trial runs will be held in selected areas.

Yuan Xin, a professor in population studies at Nankai University in Tianjin, ruled out any drastic policy change. "Issues surrounding how many children a family can have will, for a long time, still be decided by the government rather than the family itself," he said.

Supporters of change say an adjusted policy in pilot areas will help avoid a possible birth peak in the event of a blanket policy change.

But Yuan said: "Even a nationwide change won't have a major impact on population development.

"In central and western China, or in the countryside, the impact of a relaxed policy could be quite limited because of a relatively low proportion of single children."

There are more than 140 million single children across the mainland, mostly in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, the coastal provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang as well as northeastern areas, statistics from the commission show.

The rate in China stands at 1.6.

Experts say that with an eased policy the figure might rise to between 1.7 and 1.8, still a relatively low level for population growth.

Bribes probably a factor in resistance to giving up completely on One Child Policy

People in China sometimes pay brokers to bribe officials for documentation for additional children. It can cost up to $1,000 but is still much less than the official fine, which can be as high as 200,000 Renminbi, or more than $31,000.

In one case, he waited until his second child was born and registered both together as twins.

November 13, 2013

United States could become number one producer of crude oil and natural gas liquids in 2014

World Energy Forecast to 2035 sees Renewables slowing the growth of coal, oil and natural gas but not replacing them

The International Energy Association published its World Energy Outlook 2013. They forecast world energy to 2035.

Longterm solutions to global challenges remain scarce
* Renewed focus on energy efficiency, but CO2 emissions continue to rise
* Fossil-fuel subsidies increased to $544 billion in 2012, renewables received $101 billion in support in 2012
* 1.3 billion people lack electricity, 2.6 billion lack clean cooking facilities

Renewable energy will have significant growth but will only be able to slow the growth of coal, oil and natural gas. Half of the renewable energy added be regular hydroelectric dams (mainly in China.)

Also CO2 emissions continue to increase.

Therefore more nuclear energy is needed for safer energy with less air pollution, less CO2 emissions and fewer deaths. Air pollution kills 2 million each year.

China will have nearly twice the energy usage of the United States because the IEA is forecasting that China will have nearly double the GDP of the United States

Canada's energy sector is under pressure to shift to selling to China and Asia as the US will no longer be importing oil in a few years. The US will become the number one producer of crude oil and natural gas liquids in 2015.

China will look to Thorium Molten Salt Reactors to for energy without water cooling for Arid regions starting in 2040

“The TMSR (thorium molten salt reactor) is getting $400 million in support from the Chinese government, because several regions of China face water shortages in large part because China’s many coal-fired power plants require water for for cooling, as do China’s 17 conventional nuclear reactors. “Water scarcity is very serious for China,” he said. “Most of the water has been consumed by electricity companies – for coal but also nuclear.”

Xu Hongjie of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Shanghai indicated that one of the two reactors he’s developing should be ready in a 100-megawatt demonstrator version by 2024, and for full deployment by 2035. A second one, based on liquid thorium fuel instead of solid, would come later, he said, hinting that it might not yet have full government financial backing.

In a presentation at the Thorium Energy Conference 2013 (ThEC13) here, he referred to both reactors as thorium molten salt reactors (TMSR). The solid fuel version uses “pebble bed” fuel – much different from today’s fuel rods – and molten salt coolant. The liquid version uses a thorium fuel mixed with molten salt. Both run at significantly higher temperatures than conventional reactors, making them suitable as industrial heat sources in industries such as cement, steel, and oil and chemicals. The thorium can also reduce the waste and the weapons proliferation threat compared to conventional reactors.

November 12, 2013

Sample Return from hypervelocity flyby's of Moons and Asteroids

Since the Apollo era, sample return missions have been primarily limited to asteroid sampling. More comprehensive sampling could yield critical information on the formation of the solar system and the potential of life beyond Earth. Hard landings at hypervelocity (1-2 km/s) would enable sampling to several feet below the surface penetration while minimizing the Delta V and mass requirements.

Combined with tether technology a host of potential targets becomes viable. The proposed work seeks to design, develop and test a hard impact penetrator/sampler that can withstand the hard impact and enable the sample to be returned to orbit. Tether technology for release of the penetrator and capture of the sample eliminate many of the restrictions that presently inhibit the development of sample return missions. The work builds upon in hypervelocity laboratory testing that use 1" Al projectiles that investigate crater formation and penetration through hard surfaces. The proposed work will enable realistic size (6" diameter) projectiles to be studied by taking advantage of the development of cheap high power commercial rocket motors that will enable impacts up to Mach 2 for Phase I. With this data, methodologies for studying higher velocity impacts can be developed along with mission scenarios to test the viability of mission return samples in the near future. Successful development of sample return capabilities will provide a major impetus for solar system exploration.

Thin, active invisibility cloak demonstrated for first time with antennas that cancel out radar

Researchers have demonstrated an effective invisibility cloak that is thin, scalable and adaptive to different types and sizes of objects.

Professor George Eleftheriades and PhD student Michael Selvanayagam have designed and tested a new approach to cloaking—by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object.

Picture a mailbox sitting on the street. When light hits the mailbox and bounces back into your eyes, you see the mailbox. When radio waves hit the mailbox and bounce back to your radar detector, you detect the mailbox. Eleftheriades and Selvanyagam’s system wraps the mailbox in a layer of tiny antennas that radiate a field away from the box, cancelling out any waves that would bounce back. In this way, the mailbox becomes undetectable to radar.

“We’ve demonstrated a different way of doing it,” says Eleftheriades. “It’s very simple: instead of surrounding what you’re trying to cloak with a thick metamaterial shell, we surround it with one layer of tiny antennas, and this layer radiates back a field that cancels the reflections from the object.”

Their experimental demonstration effectively cloaked a metal cylinder from radio waves using one layer of loop antennas. The system can be scaled up to cloak larger objects using more loops, and Eleftheriades says the loops could become printed and flat, like a blanket or skin. Currently the antenna loops must be manually attuned to the electromagnetic frequency they need to cancel, but in future they could function both as sensors and active antennas, adjusting to different waves in real time, much like the technology behind noise-cancelling headphones.

This is the set up of the lab where U of T Professor George Eleftheriades and PhD student Michael Selvanayagam have designed and tested a new approach to cloaking -- by surrounding an object with small antennas that collectively radiate an electromagnetic field. The radiated field cancels out any waves scattering off the cloaked object. Credit: University of Toronto

OECD Leading Index Points To Stabilizing Global Economic Growth

A leading indicator of the OECD economy, which is designed to anticipate turning points in economic activity relative to trend, increased 0.07 percent sequentially to 100.7 in September, continuing the upward trend seen in recent months. Year-on-year, the index moved up 0.97 percent.

The sub-indicator for Japan points to economic growth above trend, and the index for the United Kingdom shows that growth is firming.

The Canadian economy is set to witness a positive change in momentum, and the leading indicator for the United States signals growth around trend.

The survey indicates that economic growth in the Euro Area will continue to a gain momentum. Growth is firming in Germany, and the economies of Italy and for France will experience positive changes in momentum.

Among emerging economies, the leading indicator for China signal a tentative positive change in momentum, and indicate growth around trend in Russia. Data from Brazil and in India continue to signal below-trend growth rate

China's third plenum promises deep reform but sets up a committee to work out the details

China's Communist Party said it will create a new committee to "deepen reforms" to allow the free market to play a larger role in the economy at the conclusion of a four day policy summit, known as the Third Plenum, on Tuesday.

In a statement issued after the closed-door meeting had ended the official Xinhua state news agency said a decision on “major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms” was approved and the market will play a “decisive” role in the allocation of resources.

China will “push forward land reform and give farmers more property rights”, but included no details on specific measures.

A more detailed policy document is to be released in the coming days.

There was a long list of generalities about environmental reform and other reforms but details have to be worked out on all issues.

Next Month a new international price comparison study will likely boost China purchasing power parity GDP by about 20%

The results of the 2011 International Comparison Program (compares 1000 of prices between countries) will released at the end of 2013. It is believed that the new ICP round will, as far as China is concerned, reverse to some extent the results of the 2005 ICP round (which many believed was flawed). This would then imply that China’ GDP may suddenly jump by something like 20 percent. If indeed such results come out in December 2013, then even according to the Word Bank and Penn, which would be bound to use the new 2011 PPP numbers retrospectively, China is already now the largest economy in the world.

Data on gross domestic product (called now Gross Domestic Income) are available from three sources: the Maddison project, which is the only source for the long-run series of national GDPs, going back to 1820s; the World Bank or IMF annual data, going back to 1960; and Penn World Tables, produced periodically at the University of Pennsylvania, going back from their just-released version 8.0 to 1950 . All three sources produce GDP data in PPP (purchasing power parity) terms, which means that they adjust for differences in price levels between the countries. The easiest way to explain it is to say that PPPs try to account for each good and service using the same price for it around the world, so that a mobile phone, a kilo of rice and a haircut would each be valued the same in China as in the United States.

According to Maddison series, China’s 2010 (when the series ends) GDP is $PPP 10.7 trillion, and US GDP is $PPP 9.4 trillion. China overtook the US in 2009, thus ending a period that began around 1860, when US overtook….whom? China!, to become the number one world economy.

A basic income of about $10,000 per US citizen would work mathematically

Switzerland will soon be voting on a proposal for a basic income for all of their citizens.

Certain wonks on the libertarian right and liberal left have come to a strange convergence around the idea — some prefer an unconditional “basic” income that would go out to everyone, no strings attached; others a means-tested “minimum” income to supplement the earnings of the poor up to a given level. The case from the right is one of expediency and efficacy.

Let’s say that Congress decided to provide a basic income through the tax code or by expanding the Social Security program. Such a system might work better and be fairer than the current patchwork of programs, including welfare, food stamps and housing vouchers. A single father with two jobs and two children would no longer have to worry about the hassle of visiting a bunch of offices to receive benefits. And giving him a single lump sum might help him use his federal dollars better. Conservatives think, such a program could significantly reduce the size of our federal bureaucracy. It could take the place of welfare, food stamps, housing vouchers and hundreds of other programs, all at once.

The left is more concerned with the power of a minimum or basic income as an anti-poverty and pro-mobility tool. There happens to be some hard evidence to bolster the policy’s case. In the mid-1970s, the tiny Canadian town of Dauphin ( the “garden capital of Manitoba” ) acted as guinea pig for a grand experiment in social policy called “Mincome.” For a short period of time, all the residents of the town received a guaranteed minimum income. About 1,000 poor families got monthly checks to supplement their earnings.

Evelyn Forget, a health economist at the University of Manitoba, has done some of the best research on the results. Some of her findings were obvious: Poverty disappeared. But others were more surprising: High-school completion rates went up; hospitalization rates went down. “If you have a social program like this, community values themselves start to change,” Forget said.

The US federal budget spending $3.7 trillion in 2014 and was $3.45 trillion in 2013. There was $700-1 trillion in deficit. The level that went to assistance programs was about $2-2.2 trillion.

State tax levels total about $750-800 billion.

There are about 230 million people over the age of 21 in the USA. About 30% would have a significant part of the minimum income taxed back at their marginal rate. This could be used to provide some level of basic income for those under the age of 21. If there was some level of increased tax claw back on the higher income (top 10%) people then there would be more for the families supporting kids. So the number would basically work for providing a basic income of about $10,000 per person for those 21 and over and about $5000 per child 20 and under.

It could be possible to save 2-4% with simplified administration of a cleaner and simpler assistance policy.

November 11, 2013

Lockheed shows off a hypersonic missile concept

The High Speed Strike Weapon (HSSW) is a hypersonic missile concept suitable for future bomber and fighter aircraft. Lockheed Skunk Works® is leveraging its proven experience in high Mach systems to provide an affordable, practical and compact solution. The HSSW will enable a responsive strike capability on time-critical, heavily defended targets and achieves high survivability through altitude, speed and stealth.

Metal 3d printed gun which proves laser sintering is an accurate and reliable manufacturing process

Introducing metal 3D printing to the world as a viable solution for fully functional firearm prototypes. At you can learn more about the reliability, usability, durability and accuracy of DMLS as a functioning prototype or product, and this gun is a successful demonstration of each of those attributes. Its chamber sees pressure above 20,000 psi every time it is fired proving the material integrity provided by DMLS technology. The small components needed for the 1911 series gun proves DMLS can meet tolerances and accuracy. We're changing people's perspective about what 3D Printing can do and showing the technology is at a place where we can do this kind of thing and succeed. This technology is capable of fully functioning assemblies at full scale.

Solid Concepts is a world leader of 3D Printing services, and our ability to 3D Print the world’s first metal gun solidifies our standing. The gun is a classic 1911, a model that is at once timeless and public domain. It functions beautifully: Our resident gun expert has fired 50 successful rounds and hit a few bull’s eyes at over 30 yards. The gun is composed of 30+ 3D Printed components with 17-4 Stainless Steel and Inconel 625 materials. They completed it with a Selective Laser Sintered (SLS) 3D Printed hand grip, because they’re kind of crazy about 3D Printing.

NBC will broadcast Virgin Galactic suborbital flight with Richard Branson and his children in late 2014

NBC and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson on Friday announced an agreement to track the development of the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane on television — climaxing in a flight that will put Branson and his children into outer space.

If all the flight tests proceed according to plan, that inaugural passenger spaceflight could take off from New Mexico's Spaceport America during a special edition of NBC's TODAY show next August, 2014.

"They are hoping for August, but it's completely engineering-driven," Scott told NBC News in advance of Friday's announcement on TODAY. "There's no guarantee for that. August is the desire."

NBC News' Peacock Productions will chronicle the SpaceShipTwo project across a wide spectrum of NBCUniversal brands and platforms, including, NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Syfy, The Weather Channel and more. NBC is set to air a prime-time special on the night before Branson's launch — followed by a three-hour live event on TODAY, hosted by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.

Global Inequality between all people declined from 1988 to 2008 for the first time since 1760

The period between 1988 and 2008 witnessed the first decline in global income inequality since the Industrial Revolution, reports Branko Milanovic of the World Bank. This trend, however, was driven by a decline in inequality between countries and can only be sustained if inequality within countries is kept in check.

There are three methods for calculating global inequality.

Concept 1. When we calculate this concept of inequality, we take all countries with their mean incomes –we have some 150 countries in the world with such data- and calculate the Gini coefficient. China and Luxembourg have the same importance, because we do not take population sizes into account.

Concept 2. Calculate mean income inequality but take population size into account

Concept 3. Calculate inequality of individuals based on actual income of individuals.

Nobel Prize Winner, Independent UK newspaper, and George Church are pretty much saying that we sit on the cusp of the true Transhuman age with radical life extension and regeneration

The Independent UK is hailing the CRISPR gene editing process as a breakthrough in genetics – described as “jaw-dropping” by one Nobel scientist – has created intense excitement among DNA experts around the world who believe the discovery will transform their ability to edit the genomes of all living organisms, including humans.

* they say it is only a matter of time before we are eliminating genetic disease in human embyros
* human trials to eliminate genetic diseases are starting

The developer of the CRISPR gene editing process has talked about genetically enhancing humans.

* Rare double mutants in the myostatin gene have more lean muscle and less body fat
* those with the LRP5 gene have extra strong bones (like the real version of the Bruce Willis movie Unbreakable character
* Those with the PCSK5 gene have 88 percent lower coronary disease
* Those with double CCR5 genes are HIV resistant
* Those with double FUT2 are resistant to stomach flu

George Church wrote the book

George Church has indicated that we are years from successful regeneration and anti-aging. He has also talked about radically altering human DNA on a genomic scale to achieve increased intellectual, health and physical capabilities.

With Walter Gilbert, Geroge Church developed the first direct genomic sequencing method in 1984 and helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 while he was a Research Scientist at newly formed Biogen Inc. George invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and DNA array synthesizers. Technology transfer of automated sequencing & software to Genome Therapeutics Corp. resulted in the first commercial genome sequence, (the human pathogen, Helicobacter pylori) in 1994.

George initiated the Personal Genome Project (PGP) in 2005, and, in 2007, he founded the U.S. personal genomics company Knome (with Jorge Conde and Sundar Subramaniam). He does research on synthetic biology and is director of the U.S. Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard & MIT and director of the National Institutes of Health (NHGRI) Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard.

George Church has been advisor to 22 companies, co-founding (with Joseph Jacobson, Jay Keasling, and Drew Endy) Codon Devices, a biotech startup dedicated to synthetic biology, which produces DNA sequences to order. With Chris Somerville, Jay Keasling, Noubar Afeyan, and David Berry he founded LS9, which is focused on biofuels or renewable petroleum technologies.

In 2009 he founded Pathogenica, with Yemi Adesokan, in order to pioneer commercial applications for pathogen sequencing technology.

He has authored and co-authored more than 270 publications and 50 patent

CRISPR gene editing process getting hyped as opening path to cures for many diseases and for human gene therapy and age of complete genetic engineering of all life

The Independent UK is hailing the CRISPR gene editing process as a breakthrough in genetics – described as “jaw-dropping” by one Nobel scientist – has created intense excitement among DNA experts around the world who believe the discovery will transform their ability to edit the genomes of all living organisms, including humans.

The development has been hailed as a milestone in medical science because it promises to revolutionise the study and treatment of a range of diseases, from cancer and incurable viruses to inherited genetic disorders such as sickle-cell anaemia and Down syndrome.

For the first time, scientists are able to engineer any part of the human genome with extreme precision using a revolutionary new technique called Crispr, which has been likened to editing the individual letters on any chosen page of an encyclopedia without creating spelling mistakes.

The technique is so accurate that scientists believe it will soon be used in gene-therapy trials on humans to treat incurable viruses such as HIV or currently untreatable genetic disorders such as Huntington’s disease. It might also be used controversially to correct gene defects in human IVF embryos, scientists said.

Nextbigfuture has been covering the RNA guided gene and genome editing CRISPR process for nearly one year.

George Church was involved with the development of CRISPR and it is part of enabling his vision for using genome editing to radically extend human lifespans and enable immunity and cures to all disease.

Light enabled activation of genes would also enhance the precision and capabilities of CRISPR.

X-Apple Siri Director is taking artificial intelligence into the cloud for Samsung's AI for the Internet of Things

The former director of Apple's Siri is taking Samsung's version of the artificial intelligence system to the next level. Luc Julia, vice president and innovation fellow at Samsung's Open Innovation Center in Menlo Park, Calif., demonstrated SAMI (Samsung Architecture for Multimodal Interactions), the Siri-like system central to Samsung's Internet of Things (IoT) strategy, at the MEMS Executive Congress 2013 in Napa, Calif., Nov. 7-8.

SAMI is an interactive artificial intelligence (AI) similar to Apple's Siri that Julia helped develop when at Apple. Samsung's SAMI, however, goes far beyond Apple's Siri by aggregating sensor data from all types and brands of IoT devices in the cloud. The open system will then allow Samsung ecosystem partners -- some financed by a $100 million accelerator fund -- to perform deep analytics on that data before sending smart advice back to users.

IoT wearables monitor all a person's vital signs and transmit them to the cloud for analysis.(Source: Samsung)

November 10, 2013

Hypersonic SR72 and the Trijet engine

There are some more details about the Lockheed Mach 6 hypersonic plane.

Lockheed as been working with rocket propulsion specialists Aerojet for several years on the project, using company funds. Although the design could lead to a Mach 6 unmanned strike aircraft, Lockheed Martin has dubbed it the SR-72, after the company’s SR-71 Blackbird manned strategic reconnaissance aircraft that reached Mach 3 but was retired in 1997.

The engine design modifies a standard military turbine such as an F100 or F110 and couples it to a supersonic combustion ramjet (scramjet), using a common inlet and nozzle. Aerojet has been publicizing its Trijet combined cycle concept for some time already, noting that it would bridge the so-called “thrust gap” between turbines that reach Mach 2.5 and scramjets that work above Mach 3.5. Aerojet was merged with the former Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne business to form Aerojet Rocketdyne earlier this year.

Lockheed Martin said that the design is “affordable” and could be operational by 2030.

Microrobots that can be manufactured in bulk and are light activated and can be steered by a magnetic field will enable microfactories

One of the main components of a factory is the robots that transport and assemble objects of varying shapes and sizes. When scaling down to the micro level, the steel and wiring that these robots are made of must be replaced by something else—one new idea is peanut-shaped particles that are propelled with light and steered by magnetic fields.

The light-activated docking system could provide the means to manipulate microscopic particles in a wide range of applications. The motion and cargo-carrying phenomena observed with the hematite dockers is based on osmotic/phoretic transport triggered by the photocatalytic properties of the hematite immersed in a reservoir of hydrogen peroxide. The light activation, photocatalysis, of the hematite triggers the activity and develops a concentration gradient of hydrogen peroxide, surrounding the particle. The hematite dockers themselves are made in bulk and are simple single-component particles, the team says.

The self-propelled colloidal hematite dockers can be steered to a small particle cargo many times its size, dock, transport the cargo to a remote location, and then release it. The self-propulsion and docking are reversible and activated by visible light. The docker can be steered either by a weak uniform magnetic field or by nanoscale tracks in a textured substrate. The light-activated motion and docking originate from osmotic/phoretic particle transport in a concentration gradient of fuel, hydrogen peroxide, induced by the photocatalytic activity of the hematite. The docking mechanism is versatile and can be applied to various materials and shapes. The hematite dockers are simple single-component particles and are synthesized in bulk quantities. This system opens up new possibilities for designing complex micrometer-size factories as well as new biomimetic systems.

Arxiv - Photoactivated Colloidal Dockers for Cargo Transportation

Future Antiaging treatments and the case of vaccines against viruses that cause cancer

Life Extension and Antiaging Debates

Frequently in debates and discussions about life extension there is the complaint that the poor people will not get the treatments or that there will be protests when treatments available to the wealthy are not made available to the poor.

There is the potential for vaccines to treat the viruses that cause up to 20% of cancers poorer countries. Yet there are not huge protests in the streets of poor countries demanding the availability of these life saving and life extending treatments. Vaccines to prevent cancer causing viruses would prevent almost as many cancers.

Even in developed countries not everyone avails themselves of the vaccinations that would prevent a significant cancer. Cost is mostly not a factor. Even without subsidies the cost is about $100-375. There is now a new program to make the anti-HPV vaccine that would prevent 70% of cervical cancer available for $4.50 for people in the developing world.

The World Health Organization lays out the statistics on cancer.

Cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 7.6 million deaths (around 13% of all deaths) in 2008.

Lung, stomach, liver, colon and breast cancer cause the most cancer deaths each year.

The most frequent types of cancer differ between men and women.

About 30% of cancer deaths are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, alcohol use.

Tobacco use is the most important risk factor for cancer causing 22% of global cancer deaths and 71% of global lung cancer deaths.

Cancer causing viral infections such as HBV/HCV and HPV are responsible for up to 20% of cancer deaths in low- and middle-income countries.
About 70% of all cancer deaths in 2008 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.

Vaccine to fight viruses that cause 70% of cervical and vaginal cancers will given to developing world at $4.50 per dose which could save 150,000 lives per year

A record low price for HPV vaccines will open the door for poor countries to vaccinate millions of girls against a devastating women’s cancer.

Thanks to the GAVI Alliance, the poorest countries will now have access to a sustainable supply of HPV vaccines for as low as US$ 4.50 per dose. The same vaccines can cost more than $100 in developed countries and the previous lowest public sector price was $13 per dose.

HPV vaccines are available in the routine immunisation programmes of mostly high-income countries. And yet of the 275,000 women in the world who die of cervical cancer every year, more than 85% are in low-income countries where access to cancer screening and treatment services is often lacking. Worldwide, cervical cancer is second most common and the fifth deadliest cancer in women. It affects about 16 per 100,000 women per year and kills about 9 per 100,000 per year

Safe and effective human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines protect against HPV types 16 and 18 which cause about 70% of cervical cancer cases.

Cervical cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths among women in GAVI-eligible countries.

The Gardasil vaccine also helps protect girls and young women ages 9 to 26 against approximately 70% of vaginal cancer cases and up to 50% of vulvar cancer cases.

Carnival of Space 327

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 182 - the Week that the nuclear documentary Pandora's Promise appeared on CNN

1. Atomic Insight - I want a nuclear plant in my backyard. So do some of my neighbors

A substantial number of the town’s residents gathered at their historic Colonial Theater on October 30 to watch Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise, they cheered with pride when the film turned its attention to their home territory. They paid close attention as the film told the story of Chuck Till and the effort that he led for a decade to develop the Integral Fast Reactor (IFR), a sodium cooled fast reactor that was intelligently designed with several evolutionary features worth a brief mention.

* It used a large pool of sodium rather than a piping system to move coolant.
* It used double walled tubes in the steam generator.
* It used a metal alloy fuel.
* The project also included development of a fuel recycling method that, while still not perfect, addressed many of the issues associated with the first generation aqueous reprocessing method first developed to isolate virtually pure Pu-239 for explosive uses.

The Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) operated at Argonne-West in Idaho from 1964 to 1994

Those features combined to form a complete system that demonstrated — by physical testing — that it could withstand a complete loss of all power without any damage. That was the initiating event that led to the memorable core melts and hydrogen explosions at some of the units at Fukushima Daiichi.

EBR-II, the power plant part of the Integral Fast Reactor project, produced reliable electricity for 30 years; it was a demonstration plant, not a “bread-board” prototype. The IFR project also came close to showing that the system could recycle material that other reactors discharged as “waste” and that it could perform that task without producing any material that would be even as useful for weapons as the low grade uranium ore that is distributed throughout the world.

Of course, the Idaho Falls audience for Pandora’s Promise also knew enough of their history to be saddened by the politically driven decision, announced by President Clinton in 1994, to remove funding from all nuclear reactor research, including the IFR. I was sitting close enough to Chuck Till in the audience that I heard several people come up to him after the film’s showing to console him about the tragedy of having his program halted just when it was getting close to final success.

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