November 30, 2013

50 meters of new integrated optical waveguides will enable vastly superior tactical gyroscopes and other devices

DARPA’s integrated Photonic Delay (iPhoD) program created a new class of photonic waveguides with losses approaching that of optical fiber. The new waveguides are built onto microchips and include up to 50 meters of coiled material that is used to delay light. Conventional fiber optic coils of the same length would be about the size of a small juice glass. These waveguides also employ modern silicon processing to achieve submicron precision and more efficient manufacturing. The result is a new component that is smaller and more precise than anything before in its class.

“Prior to the start of iPhoD, the best integrated waveguides had a signal loss of about 1 decibel per meter with total lengths of only a few meters,” said Josh Conway, DARPA program manager. “Under iPhoD, two research teams created chips with loss around 0.05 decibels per meter. The submillimeter bend diameter, which describes how tightly the waveguide can coil without significant signal loss, allowed the demonstration of a 50-meter optical delay on a single microchip.”

“These results are firsts for optical waveguides with performance that is equal or superior to larger, fiber optic-based devices,” added Conway. “Chip-scale waveguides, with smaller sizes and new integration possibilities promise advanced, compact military systems such as tactical gyroscopes that significantly outperform state-of-the-art MEMS devices with the same footprint.”

Mission to grow plants on the moon would have cost $300 million the old way but hitchhiking with the Moon Express Lander in 2015 will cost $2 million and could be a big step for colonization technology

Nasa has announced plans to grow plants on the moon by 2015 in a project designed to further humanity’s chances of successfully colonising space.

Plant growth will be an important part of space exploration in the future as NASA plans for long-duration missions to the moon. NASA scientists anticipate that astronauts may be able to grow plants on the moon, and the plants could be used to supplement meals.

If successful, the Lunar Plant Growth Habitat team will make history by seeding life from Earth on another celestial body for the first time, paving the way for humans to set up more permanent habitation. “If we send plants and they thrive, then we probably can,” says Nasa.

Scientists, contractors and students will work together to create a small 1kg “self-contained habitat” containing seeds and germination material to send to the moon. To get there Nasa plans to ‘hitchhike’, delivering the payload via the Moon Express lander, a commercial spacecraft enrolled in the Google Lunar X Prize. “After landing in late 2015, water will be added to the seeds in the module and their growth will be monitored for 5-10 days and compared to Earth based controls. Seeds will include Arabidopsis, basil, and turnips,” said Nasa.

This will be the first life sciences experiment on another world and an important first step in the utilization of plants for human life support. Follow up experiments will improve the technology in the growth module and allow for more extensive plant experiments.

Adjusting China GDP shows China economy is less unbalanced and has 47% GDP from consumption and 42% national savings rate

It is increasingly accepted that China’s consumption is underestimated, while its investment is overestimated. Two studies, among others, have shed light on the subject. One is on unreported ‘grey’ income by Professor Wang Xiaolu of the National Economic Research Institute; the other is on consumption underestimation by Professors Zhang Jun of Fudan University and Zhu Tian of the China-Europe Business School. Many have heard of these studies, but most believe that the difference is insignificant.

By combining the results of the two studies, however, my conclusions show very significant changes to China’s GDP composition. The corrections would raise household consumption by 11 per cent of GDP, while reducing the shares of investment and government spending by 8 per cent and 3 per cent of GDP, respectively.

Even that only brings consumption from 36 per cent to 47 per cent, still a long way away from desirable. But the implication is profound: it would mean that China need not be so aggressive in slowing investment and that it has less scope than previously believed to stimulate consumption.

Apple expected to make a 12.9 inch iPad and new iWatch in 2014

Quanta Computer has reportedly landed orders for Apple's rumored large-size iPad for mass production in the second half of 2014, while Inventec, Quanta and Foxconn Electronics (Hon Hai Precision Industry) are currently competing over Apple's iWatch orders, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.

Apple's large-size 12.9 inch iPad will mainly target the education and enterprise markets.

As for the iWatch, component makers have already started the pilot production, but because of low yields, mass production is rumored to have been postponed from the first quarter of 2014 to the second.

The "iWatch" is rumored to carry a wide array of biometric sensors, making the device focused on fitness and health.

TechRadar indicates Apple may be going for a fully flexible plastic OLED screen (1.3 to 1.5 inches).

Samsung super resolution S5 Galaxy and 5.5 inch Apple iPhone 6 in 2014

Bloomberg - Apple is developing new iPhone designs including 4.7 and 5.5 inch screens with curved glass and enhanced sensors that can detect different levels of pressure, said a person familiar with the plans. It is expected that the new iPhone 6 versions will be released in September of 2014

Federico Ciccarese has a rendering of what the iPhone 6 would look like

Samsung Galaxy S5 in first three months of 2014

The word out of the Asian supply network is that Samsung could be prepping the Galaxy S5 for as early as the first quarter of 2014, around January or February, which would be a pretty rapid turnaround from the previous model.

Samsung is expected to have 2K displays inside its flagship handsets in 2014 which would equate to a pixel density of around 560ppi on a 5-inch panel.

November 29, 2013

Google Anti-aging Company Calico

Google as recently embarked on a series of high profile hires for its new venture Calico, a company which wants to extend human life by up to 100 years.

Short for California Life Company, Calico is headed up by Art Levinson, the former CEO of biotech company Genentech and Apple board member, who this week announced the elite recruits on Google+.

Pharmaceutical guru Hal Barron will serve as President of research and development, while David Botsein, the former head of Princeton's Genome Unit will be chief scientific officer.

Genetics expert Cynthia Kenyon and oncology expert Robert Cohen will also join the company.

Drug-carrying nanoparticles that can be taken orally in pill form

Researchers from MIT and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered orally and absorbed through the digestive tract, allowing patients to simply take a pill instead of receiving injections.

The researchers used the particles to demonstrate oral delivery of insulin in mice, but they say the particles could be used to carry any kind of drug that can be encapsulated in a nanoparticle. The new nanoparticles are coated with antibodies that act as a key to unlock receptors found on the surfaces of cells that line the intestine, allowing the nanoparticles to break through the intestinal walls and enter the bloodstream.

Science Translational Medicine - Transepithelial Transport of FC-Targeted Nanoparticles by the Neonatal FC Receptor For Oral Delivery

Genetically modified cells monitor blood fat levels and release hormones to make you feel full, test on obese mice help them lose weight

ETH-Zurich biotechnologists have constructed a genetic regulatory circuit from human components that monitors blood-fat levels. In response to excessive levels, it produces a messenger substance that signalises satiety to the body. Tests on obese mice reveal that this helps them to lose weight.

Humankind has a weight problem – and not only in industrialised nations, either: the growing prosperity in many Asian or Latin American countries goes hand in hand with a way of life that quite literally has hefty consequences. According to the WHO, over half the population in many industrialised nations is overweight, one in three people extremely so. Overweight people are at an increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the latter being the most common cause of death in western industrialised nations. Not only is high-calorie and fatty food a lifetime on the hips, backside and stomach; it also leaves traces in the blood, where various fats ingested via food circulate. Increased blood-fat values are also regarded as a risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Nature Communication - A closed-loop synthetic gene circuit for the treatment of diet-induced obesity in mice

Interplanetary missions as secondary payloads

November 28, 2013

UK company plans high altitude solar and wind energy generating drones

UK-based New Wave Energy plans to build the first high altitude aerial power plant, using networks of unmanned drones that can harvest energy from multiple sources and transmit it wirelessly to receiving stations on the ground.

The network of drones hover in the sky harvesting both solar and wind power, while moving about at low speeds to keep track of the sun. The drones will operate at high altitudes where the winds are more stable and there's minimal chance of weather patterns or aircraft interfering with them.

Each 20 x 20 meter (65 x 65 feet) drone will have four rotors, multiple wind turbines and a flat base for generating solar power. It'll be able to power itself with the harvested energy and generate an additional 50 kW that can be transmitted wirelessly to the ground. Rectenna arrays installed inland or on offshore installations would receive the electromagnetic waves and convert them into usable power.

An aerial power plant containing thousands of drones could produce around 400 MWe of power.

New Wave Energy UK plans to start a Kickstarter campaign to raise around £300,000 (US$500,000) and expects to have a working prototype within 6 months of receiving funding.

Intelsat advocating the business case for servicing satelltes

Intelsat has a fleet of over 50 geostationary satellites and is the world’s largest commercial operator.

Intelsat has spacecraft and launches from most major manufacturers and launch agencies
Intelsat has several launches annually to replenish fleet spacecraft

Why Now for Satellite Servicing?

• Global environment has changed
– Development of international capabilities
– Peaceful use of space, orbital debris concerns
• Technology has improved
– Robotics
– Satellite control, imaging, and data handling
• USG has been strong advocate
– US National Space Policy
– Robotic Refueling Mission, Restore Program
– DARPA Tactical Technology Office Phoenix Program
• Business environment has changed

George Church has new 43 million dollar startup Editas Medicine to commercialize precise CRISPR/Cas gene therapy

Harvard geneticist George Church, who cofounded Editas, says the CRISPR/CAS gene therapy technology’s ability to change single base pairs enables fundamentally new ways of thinking about gene therapy. Many inherited diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia, are caused by single base pair changes to the DNA sequence of genes; the precise CRISPR/Cas technology could correct these mutations in patients.

Editas Medicine is new startup, backed with $43 million in venture investments, aims to develop treatments that could cure inherited diseases with a one-time fix based on a new method of genome editing. The method offers great precision in changing the DNA sequence of a genome and can potentially treat diseases that other forms of gene therapy cannot.

Genome Editing

CRISPR (clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPR-associated protein 9) and TALENs (transcription activator-like effector nucleases) comprise novel gene editing methods that overcome the challenges associated with previous technologies. Early published research on CRISPR/Cas9, coupled with a growing body of work on TALENs, suggests the potential to pursue therapeutic indications that have previously been intractable to traditional gene therapy, gene knock-down or other genome modification techniques. The CRISPR/Cas9 system, the most recent and exciting approach to emerge, acts by a mechanism in which the Cas9 protein binds to specific RNA molecules. The RNA molecules then guide the Cas9 complex to the exact location in the genome that requires repair. CRISPR/Cas9 uniquely enables highly efficient knock-out, knock-down or selective editing of defective genes in the context of their natural promoters, unlocking the ability to treat the root cause of a broad range of diseases.

“Editas is poised to bring genome editing to fruition as a new therapeutic modality, essentially debugging errors in the human software that cause disease,” said Alexis Borisy, director, Editas Medicine and partner, Third Rock Ventures. “Our CRISPR/Cas9 technology is favorably differentiated due to its ability to pursue almost the entire genome, allowing broad therapeutic application and the targeting of defective genes in a highly specific, selective and efficient manner.

Alzheimers could just be late stage type 2 diabetes and avoidable with diet and exercise

Evidence is growing that Alzheimer's could actually be a late stage of type 2 diabetes – if it is, we all have another big reason to live healthier lives.

About 35 million people have Alzheimer's; most of them require expensive, exhausting care. By 2050 that number is expected to triple. We still don't really know what causes the disease or how it destroys the brain. There is no way to prevent it and no cure. Dealing with the epidemic will cost trillions.

There is growing evidence that Alzheimer's is actually a late stage of another disease, type 2 diabetes. The link between the two has been noted for a few years and though it remains a hypothesis, the evidence is growing.

the same research also offers a way to reverse memory problems associated with diabetes – albeit in rats – which may hint at a new treatment for Alzheimer's.

"Perhaps you should use Alzheimer's drugs at the diabetes stage to prevent cognitive impairment in the first place," says Ewan McNay from the University at Albany in New York.

Netherlands TNO working on platooned cars in public road tests

TNO is working on technology to enable cars and trucks to drive automatically on the highway. Cooperatively and at low cost. Tests on the public road will have to demonstrate that automatic driving boosts traffic safety, improves traffic flow, cuts down on fuel and thereby reduces CO2 emissions.

A unique aspect of this demonstration is that it concerns automatic, cooperatively driven cars whereby the car drives at a short distance from the car in front, determining the speed itself by communicating with other cars on the road and with the driver not having his hands on the steering wheel. This means that the cars not only have the technology for automatic driving but that they can also communicate through a wireless communication network with other cars and the surrounding infrastructure.

The TNO technology that is applied is both affordable and scalable for the future and can quickly and easily be put into practice. However, public road tests will first have to demonstrate that automatic driving can lead to more comfort, fewer traffic jams and accidents, and less fuel consumption.

Virtual Towbar
Driving in ‘train carriages’ is part of automatic driving. Vehicles driving close behind each other reduces fuel consumption, from the last and the first in the train. The transport sector is tracking developments in this area very closely; it hopes that through techniques like trucks driving in columns or ‘platooning’, as the jargon calls it, the sector can stay at the head of its international rivals. This is already possible with two trucks. If two trucks drive close together, 10-20% fuel can be saved, which results in 20% lower CO2 emission. Here, too, public road tests in real traffic will have to demonstrate that the automatic driving of trucks not only makes road transport more efficient and green but also safer. TNO is striving together with the sector and the government to enable such tests to happen in 2014 and 2015.

Concept car winner from the LA Auto Show

The judges of the 10th annual LA Auto Show Design Challenge named SAIC Motor the winner of the 2013 competition. SAIC Motor beat out eight world-renowned auto design studios for the honor with an innovative public transit solution aimed at alleviating urban problems such as air pollution and traffic congestion.

Inspired by a simple ant’s distinctive body structure and the mutually beneficial relationship between ants and trumpet trees, SAIC Motors designed Roewe “Mobiliant.” Mobiliant is a single-seat vehicle for urban public transit, which helps improve both transportation and operation efficiency for future urban ecological systems.

Better Combustion through plasma could eventually improve the efficiency of jets, trains and cars

Mix together air, fuel, and heat and you get combustion, the chemical reaction that powers most engines in planes, trains and automobiles. And if you throw in some ionized gas (plasma), it turns out, you can sustain combustion even in conditions that would otherwise snuff out the reaction: at low air pressure, in high winds or when there's low fuel.

Such plasma-assisted combustion can potentially give an efficiency boost to high-performance aircraft. The technology could help military jets fly at high altitudes, passenger planes and unmanned drones cruise for long distances while conserving fuel, and supersonic jets maintain ignition at breakneck speeds that would normally suffocate flames with fast-flowing air.

Scientists know that by introducing plasma to the reaction – near or at the location where the flame ignites – new chemical species are produced that catalyze combustion. But no one knows precisely what species are involved, what the reactions are, and what their rates are. "It's not well understood at all," said Igor Adamovich of Ohio State University.

To better understand plasma-assisted combustion and to develop future technology, researchers are conducting experiments and creating computer models to determine which chemical processes are involved.

Kinetic Modeling of Low-Temperature Plasma Assisted Combustion

Synthetic polymers coating a nanoparticle are synthetic antibodies

MIT chemical engineers have developed a novel way to generate nanoparticles that can recognize specific molecules, opening up a new approach to building durable sensors for many different compounds, among other applications.

To create these “synthetic antibodies,” the researchers used carbon nanotubes — hollow, nanometer-thick cylinders made of carbon that naturally fluoresce when exposed to laser light. In the past, researchers have exploited this phenomenon to create sensors by coating the nanotubes with molecules, such as natural antibodies, that bind to a particular target. When the target is encountered, the carbon nanotube’s fluorescence brightens or dims.

MIT chemical engineers created this sensor that can recognize riboflavin by coating a carbon nanotube with amphiphilic polymers.

Ukraine leadership playing off the EU and Russia while continuing kleptocracy

There are several conclusions we can draw from the current status of the EU-Ukraine negotiations:

Russia's oligarch's took the vast majority of Russia's assets during Yeltsin's rule in the 1990s. The Ukrainian oligarchs are a group of business oligarchs that quickly appeared on the economic and political scene of Ukraine after its independence in 1991, just as happened in neighboring post-Soviet state Russia. As of 2008, Ukraine's wealthiest 50 oligarchs account for 85% of the country’s GDP.

The rise of the oligarchs has been connected to the processes of privatization of state-owned assets. These processes usually involved the distribution of property titles of such enterprises, land, and real estate, on equal base to the whole population of the country, through instruments such as privatization vouchers, certificates, and coupons. Given the different preferences of people in relation to risk-aversity, property titles were easily re-sold. Businessmen who could provide an initial investment capital to collect such property titles could thus easily arrive to the property of whole former public holdings.

The oligarchs' influence on the Ukrainian Government is uncertain, but some analysts and Ukrainian politicians believe that some Ukrainian businesses tycoons, with "lucrative relations" with Russia, are deliberately hindering Ukraine's European Union integration

-Ukrainian leadership may not yet be ready either to democratise the country or integrate Ukraine into European economic and security institutions. However, the Ukrainian population - even in the Russian-speaking east of the country - is increasingly supportive of Ukraine joining the EU.

-Mr Yanukovych, who is supported by less than half the population, wants to ensure he stays in power. Many Ukrainian experts believe that he tried to play off Russia and the EU in order to maximise his chances of re-election in 2015. To achieve this he needs either a successful agreement with the EU, which would broaden his political base, or Russian President Vladimir Putin's help in consolidating his authoritarian rule.

November 27, 2013

For the first time in nearly 25 years US crude oil production is over 8 million barrels per day

US daily crude oil production ia at 8.019 million barrels per day. This is the first time crude oil production is over 8 million barrels per day since January 1989.

Total all liquids oil production is at 12.85 million barrels per day.
Crude oil and natural gas liquids production is at 10.67 million barrels per day.

Nvidia and IBM collaborate on using Nvidia GPUs to accelerate enterprise servers for Big Data applications

Nvidia and IBM announced that they will collaborate on accelerating IBM's enterprise software applications with Nvidia's graphics processing unit (GPUs) for IBM's Power System servers. The partners also plan to integrate Tesla's GPUs with IBM's Power8 processors.

Nvidia and IBM emphasized that their collaboration is aimed not just at high-performance computing (HPC) users but also at moving what has until now been almost exclusively a supercomputer coprocessor -- Nvidia's Tesla -- into enterprise-grade servers to help deal with the increasing volume of streaming Big Data in business contexts.

Arianespace May offer lower Pricing to meet the challenge of Spacex

Space News reports that Arianespace commercial launch consortium is telling its customers it is open to reducing the cost of flights for lighter satellites on the Ariane 5 rocket in response to the challenge posed by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Stephane Israel’s comments came on the day when Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), after a decade of rattling Arianespace’s cage, was preparing its first-ever launch into the geostationary transfer orbit used by most commercial telecommunications satellites, and the place where most commercial revenue is made.

SpaceX Chairman Elon Musk taunted Arianespace again on Nov. 24, the day before his company was scheduled to launch the SES-8 satellite owned by SES of Luxembourg.

“Unless the other rocket makers improve their technology rapidly, they will lose significant market share to the Falcon 9,” Musk said in a news briefing.

SpaceX’s Nov. 25 launch attempt was scrubbed by technical concerns late in the countdown. At press time, SpaceX was planning to make another attempt Nov. 28.

An Ariane 5 launch costs $200 million and carries two spacecraft to geosynchronous transfer orbit. Each launch pairs a heavy satellite typically weighing more than 5,000 kilograms with a lighter one. SpaceX charges $56.5 million for a Falcon 9 launch.

Pakistan expanding commercial nuclear energy with 6 more power plant locations

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced Tuesday that his country will build six more civil nuclear power plants. According to the prime minister, Pakistan would produce 40,000 MW of power from nuclear plants till 2050 and the government's priority was to start work on power projects to overcome the energy shortage.

Sharif also expressed his gratitude to China for its help in building nuclear power plants in Pakistan.

Pakistan currently has a small nuclear power program, with 725 MWe capacity, but is moving to increase this substantially.

3 small reactors exist now.
2 more 340 MWe are under construction
One 1000 MWe and two 1100 MWe are about to start construction
The above should be completed by 2020.

There are six more powerplant locations that will each have 1100MWe reactors as well.
Those should be completed by 2030.

Flock of 28 nanosatellites is targeted for launch in December

In December 2013, Planet Labs will launch the world’s largest constellation of Earth observing satellites.

Planet Labs announced yesterday successfully launched its most recent satellites, Dove 3 and Dove 4, into orbit on a Dnepr vehicle. This will be closely followed by the launch of Planet Labs’ “Flock 1″ fleet of 28 satellites in December, which will be the largest constellation of Earth-imaging satellites ever launched.

Spacex geosynchronous launch delayed to Thursday

SpaceX’s scrubbed the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral on Monday after the vehicle suffered a couple of technical problems on the launch pad. SpaceX is prohibited from launching on Tuesday and Wednesday due to heavy holiday air travel. The next possible launch attempt would be Thursday at 5:38 p.m. EST (22:38 UTC).

This is first use of a Falcon 9 to place a communications satellite into geosynchronous orbit. The payload is the SES-8 spacecraft.

Texas is the leading location for the Spacex commercial spaceport

The McAllen Economic Development Corp. may offer $500,000 to SpaceX, which plans to build the world’s first commercial spaceport near Brownsville.

Last week, SpaceX formally requested the $500,000 “performance-based economic development grant,” according to a confidential three-page letter obtained by The Monitor, and pledged to spend $20 million with McAllen-based businesses during the next 10 years.

“Competing states aggressively recruit the space industry by offering incentive programs with up to $20 million in grants annually (approximately 50 percent of total project cost),” according to the letter. “In order to compete, awards from multiple eligible state and local incentive sources are needed to secure the project for South Texas, including the requested performance based incentive from the MEDC.”

“We are looking at other potential launch locations. Expanding on our activities in Florida is one; Georgia, Puerto Rico — and there are a few other possibilities,” Musk said. “So it’s not for sure that it would occur, but I would say that Texas is probably our leading candidate right now.”

Carnival of Space 329

November 26, 2013

Superconducting Memristors

In his original work Josephson [Phys. Lett. 1, 251 (1962)] predicted that a phase-dependent conductance should be present in superconductor tunnel junctions. This effect attracted considerable attention in the past but is difficult to detect, mainly because it is hard to single it out from the background pair current. Here, we propose to isolate it by using a two-junction interferometer where the junctions have the same critical currents but different conductances. The pair current is completely suppressed when the magnetic flux in the loop is half of a flux quantum and the device is characterized by a pure phase-dependent conductance. According to the theory of nonlinear circuit elements this is in fact an ideal voltage-controlled memristor. Possible applications of this memristive device are memories and neuromorphic computing within the framework of ultrafast and low-energy superconducting digital circuits.

* Superconducting memristors would be extremely picosecond switching times
* superconducting memristors could be integrated with existing RSFQ circuits at up to hundreds of Gigahertz while using 100,000 times less power than conventional semiconductors

$500 ‘nano-camera’ can operate at the speed of light for collision avoidance for cars and other applications

A $500 “nano-camera” that can operate at the speed of light has been developed by researchers in the MIT Media Lab.

The three-dimensional camera, which was presented last week at Siggraph Asia in Hong Kong, could be used in medical imaging and collision-avoidance detectors for cars, and to improve the accuracy of motion tracking and gesture-recognition devices used in interactive gaming.

The camera is based on “Time of Flight” technology like that used in Microsoft’s recently launched second-generation Kinect device, in which the location of objects is calculated by how long it takes a light signal to reflect off a surface and return to the sensor. However, unlike existing devices based on this technology, the new camera is not fooled by rain, fog, or even translucent objects.

The new device uses an encoding technique commonly used in the telecommunications industry to calculate the distance a signal has traveled.

New inks and tools allow 3-D printing of lithium-ion batteries

By making the basic building blocks of batteries out of ink, Harvard materials scientist Jennifer Lewis is laying the groundwork for lithium-ion batteries and other high-performing electronics that can be produced with 3-D printers.

Although the technology is still at an early stage, the ability to print batteries and other electronics could make it possible to manufacture new kinds of devices. Think of self-powered biomedical sensors, affixed to the skin, that would continuously transmit vital signs to a smartphone. Or existing products could be made more simply and efficiently.

For example, the plastic shell of a hearing aid is already 3-D printed for a custom fit inside a wearer’s ear. But the electronics are manufactured separately, and the batteries are often the type that must be replaced frequently. If the electronics and a rechargeable battery were printed together, the final product could be made more rapidly and seamlessly

To make inks used to print anodes for lithium-ion batteries, nanoparticles of lithium titanium oxide are added to a vial of deionized water and ethylene glycol.

Ceramic balls are added to the mixture to act as grinders that will break apart the clumped particles

China connects 18th nuclear reactor to the grid

Hongyanhe 2 has been connected to the Chinese electricity grid, the 18th reactor in the country to do so.

The unit is a CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor, on which construction was started in 2008. The first unit at the site has been operating on a commercial basis since June and now unit 2 is set to follow in a matter of months. Two more units are under construction and expected to start up next year. Beyond these the site could also feature two further units although the technology for these has not been announced.

The site in northern Liaoning province incorporates a seawater desalination plant producing 10,080 cubic metres of potable water per day. It is about 420 kilometres from Beijing across the Bo Hai Sea.

The owner and operator of the plant is Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Co, a joint venture of China General Nuclear and China Power Investment Corp (45% each) and Dalian Construction Investment Group. The cost of all four units was put at CNY50 billion ($8.2 billion)

The Deadliest Job in Research

You would think that running simulations on computers would run no greater risk than tunnel carpel from poor keyboard design but Indian nuclear scientists risk bombing, poisoning, etc which are classified as natural deaths by Indian police.

Indian nuclear scientists haven't had an easy time of it over the past decade. Not only has the scientific community been plagued by "suicides," unexplained deaths, and sabotage, but those incidents have gone mostly underreported in the country—diluting public interest and leaving the cases quickly cast off by police.

Last month, two high-ranking engineers—KK Josh and Abhish Shivam—on India's first nuclear-powered submarine were found on railway tracks by workers. They were pulled from the line before a train could crush them, but were already dead. No marks were found on the bodies, so it was clear they hadn't been hit by a moving train, and reports allege they were poisoned elsewhere before being placed on the tracks to make the deaths look either accidental or like a suicide. The media and the Ministry of Defence, however, described the incident as a routine accident and didn't investigate any further.

Andrea Rossi and his company are taking pre-orders for the 1 megawatt LENR Energy Catalyzer

The super controversial Rossi ECAT 1MW plant is now available on the market. It takes 200 kilowatts of input power and claims to deliver 1 Megawatt of output power.

UPDATE - Looking at the dates of the FAQ. The site was put up in November 2011.

Sign up and pre-order, and secure your place on a waiting list with the right to priority treatment and faster product delivery.

The ECAT 1MW plant contains 106 smaller ECAT units mounted in a shipping container. Valve for filling the Hydrogen is on the front of each unit, together with electrical connection to the immersion heater used to start the reaction.

Production & Manufacturing plans are under way 2013. Current delivery time is estimated to four months. Warranty for functionality is two years with a guaranteed COP of 6, and the plant has an expected life span of 30 years.

The ECAT 1MW plant is constructed inside an international standardized 20ft container which can easily be transferred between different modes of transportation (e.g. ships, air cargo, trains and trucks).

The plant consists of small parallel modules. Each reactor contains three cores and consumes small amounts of treated Nickel powder and Hydrogen gas (under pressure, approx. 15 bar). The plant is recharged by specially trained and certified personnel.

November 25, 2013

DARPA has a new vacuum power amplifier which was demonstrated at 0.85 terahertz

The submillimeter wave, or terahertz, part of the electromagnetic spectrum falls between the frequencies of 0.3 and 3 terahertz, between microwaves and infrared light. Historically, device physics has prevented traditional solid state electronics (microchips) from operating at the terahertz scale. Unlocking this band's potential may benefit military applications such as data rate communications, improved radar and unique methods of spectroscopy-imaging techniques that provide better tools for scientific research. However, access to these applications is limited due to physics.

Researchers under DARPA's Terahertz Electronics (THz) program have designed and demonstrated a 0.85 Terahertz power amplifier using a micromachined vacuum tube-a world's first. The achievement comes from DARPA-funded researchers at Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, who built the 1 centimeter-wide traveling wave vacuum tube. The vacuum tube power amplifier is only one achievement of the broader THz program, which seeks to develop a variety of breakthrough component and integration technologies necessary to one day build complex THz circuits for communications and sensing.

Canada's Uranium Exploration Boom using a uranium boulder detecting technology

It started with a single drill hole made by a team of explorers just outside the Western edge of Saskatchewan's Athabasca Basin, home to the richest uranium deposits in the world. The fact that the team was there at all broke with conventional wisdom. Other companies believed you had to be within the boundaries of the Basin and on the east side. The west side was therefore under-explored. It was also believed there were no more nearsurface discoveries to be made. Using innovative science, that single drill hole struck a major intersection of high-grade uranium and in just a few months the explorers had a new discovery on their hands that caught the attention of industry analysts and the international investment community alike with its incredibly high grades and shallow depth.

The new discovery is known as Patterson Lake South (PLS) and the team that made it is Fission Uranium Corp

Standard Chartered predicts 7% annual GDP growth for China until 2020 and then averaging 5.3% in the next decade

China's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be bigger than that of the US as early as 2022 according to a report by Standard Chartered Bank that makes forecasts on countries' economic outlook.

According to the report, China's economy will sustain growth at over 7% annually for several years to come, before slowing down to an annual growth of about 5%. But it takes only about eight years of such a growth rate for the economy to overtake that of the US, which is predicted to grow at far more modest rates.

Driven by China's reform momentum, the economy will grow at a rate of 7% between 2013 and 2020, the report says. Thereafter, until 2030, it will grow at 5.3%.

The report also says the emerging economies, which account for 38% of the world's GDP, will become far more powerful with a 63% share in global GDP in 2030. It adds that the global trade volume will rise fourfold to $75 trillion by 2030.

Standard Chartered also has forecasts for the Renmimbi (china's currency) If their predictions on the currency are correct then the Renmimbi should appreciate and China would pass the US economy on an exchange rate basis earlier in about 2018-2020.

* They expect 28% of China’s international trade to be denominated in Renminbi by 2020, some USD 3 trillion a year.
* China’s vast imports of commodities will gradually convert to CNY settlement.
* They expect a cross-border Renminbi interbank payment system (CIPS) to be fully operational by 2015.
* Daily Renminbi FX turnover should exceed USD 500bn by 2020
* They think the Renminbi will be a basically freely floating currency, the capital account will be more or less open, and SHIBOR (or a similar rate) will operate as China’s equivalent of the federal funds target rate.
* The expect China’s capital account to be basically open by 2020. Direct investment will flow much more easily than today, with only large deals subject to approval requirements

Brightest Gamma Ray Burst observed for 20 hours provides details that will change Astrophysic Theories

On April 27, a blast of light from a dying star in a distant galaxy became the focus of astronomers around the world. The explosion, known as a gamma-ray burst and designated GRB 130427A, tops the charts as one of the brightest ever seen.

A trio of NASA satellites, working in concert with ground-based robotic telescopes, captured never-before-seen details that challenge current theoretical understandings of how gamma-ray bursts work.

The LAT detected GRB 130427A for about 20 hours, far longer than any previous burst. For a gamma-ray burst, it was relatively nearby. Its light traveled 3.8 billion years before arriving at Earth, about one-third the travel time for light from typical bursts.

"Detailed observations by Swift and ground-based telescopes clearly show that GRB 130427A has properties more similar to typical distant bursts than to nearby ones," said Gianpiero Tagliaferri, a Swift team member at Brera Observatory in Merate, Italy.

This extraordinary event enabled NASA's newest X-ray observatory, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR), to make a first-time detection of a burst afterglow in high-energy, or "hard," X-rays after more than a day. Taken together with Fermi LAT data, these observations challenge long-standing predictions.

These maps show the sky at energies above 100 MeV as seen by Fermi's LAT instrument. Left: The sky during a 3-hour interval before GRB 130427A. Right: A 3-hour map ending 30 minutes after the burst. GRB 130427A was located in the constellation Leo, near its border with Ursa Major.
Image Credit: NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT Collaboration

Ranking of best and worst run States in America

24/7 Wall Street has an updated report on the best and worst run states for 2013

Good governance involves raising and spending enough to provide for the well-being of the population without risking the state’s long-term stability.

To determine how well the states are run, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed hundreds of data sets from dozens of sources. We looked at each state’s debt, revenue, expenditure, and deficit to determine how well it was managed fiscally. We reviewed taxes, exports, and GDP growth, including a breakdown by sector, to identify how each state was managing its resources. We looked at poverty, income, unemployment, high school graduation, violent crime and foreclosure rates to assess the well-being of the state’s resident.

The best run states have benefited from a lot of oil and natural gas. However, California (50th), Texas (10th) and Alaska (8th) also have a lot of oil and natural gas and have not managed resources as well.

1. North Dakota
> Debt per capita: $3,033 (20th lowest)
> Budget deficit: None
> Unemployment: 3.1% (the lowest)
> Median household income: $53,585 (19th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.2% (6th lowest)

North Dakota’s economic output has surged in the past few years, with GDP climbing 13.4% in 2012, well above the second-fastest growing state, Texas, whose GDP grew by 4.8% in 2012. The Peace Garden State has continued to reap the benefits of fracking in the oil-rich Bakken Shale formation, which accounted for about 90% of the state’s oil production in 2012.

Boston Consulting has ten predictions for China in 2014

The Boston Consulting Group believe that the current dip in China’s growth will not endure and that, under Xi’s leadership, China’s economy is destined to continue growing at a rapid clip. In fact, we are confident last week’s reforms will contribute mightily to China’s growth between now and 2020. BCG stands by their base case forecast that China will deliver $4 trillion in growth over the next decade and combine with India to deliver a $10 trillion prize — an economic powerhouse driven by booming middle class consumption and growing overall optimism. No one can perfectly forecast the future … and in our book we describe scenarios where growth slows. But they remain optimistic and positive about China’s future.

BCG claims their is a $10 trillion opportunity in China and India. Clearly as consultants BCG profits from companies that engage them to help guide them in emerging markets.

Here are their top 10 expectations for China in 2014:

1. China’s leadership will ignite the capital economy, funding an aggressive growth program with major infrastructure investments to support urban development, including huge allotments for housing, schools, roads, and more.

2. The new one child plus policy will substantially raise the birth rate, contributing up to 2 million new children to the 2014 economy, a 15 percent one-year lift that will only further boost consumer morale and spirit.

NBF - there is also the likelihood that China will go completely to a two child policy in 2015 and then lift the restrictions completely by about 2018. Those actions will further boost the birthrate. Those actions will provide more economic growth and keep the populace more happy with current leadership.

Top 16 world economies

The Economist published their World in 2014

Here is their list of the top economies in the world (actually they published per capita GDP and per capita GDP PPP and population.) The total GDP and ranking was calculated from those numbers. China, India and Indonesia will have their GDP Purchasing power parity adjusted to be about 10-30% higher when the International Comparison of prices is published next month.

Several countries are close enough in nominal GDP that currency fluctuations will change their ranking.
The UK can pass France with minor currency changes.
Canada, Italy and Spain are close enough for currency changes to shift the nominal GDP ranking.
Brazil, Russia and India are close enough for currency shifts to change the ranking.
The European countries are not growing their population and will drift down the rankings of the next several years.

ReWORK City Conference December 13th in London, England

RE.WORK Cities Summit taking place on 13 December in London.

Nextbigfuture has one free pass to provide to a reader of nextbigfuture. Express your interest for this pass and one reader will be selected. The attendee should provide a summary of their experience at the Summit in an email that will be published.

NEXTBIGFUTURE40 is the 40% off discount code.

Sign up by Nov 29th for the early bird discount.

An example of some of the talks that will be presented.

Andrew Hudson-Smith, University College London

Realtime Data, Augmented and Virtual Reality mixed with The Internet of Things: Towards the Smart Citizen and ultimately a Smart City
Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere: sensors used to gather climate information, posts to social media sites, digital pictures and videos, purchase transaction records, and cell phone GPS signals to name a few (IBM, 2103). This data can, compared to traditional data sources, be defined as ‘big’. Cities and urban environments are the main sources for big data, every minute 100,000 tweets are sent globally, Google receives 2,000,000 search requests and users share 684,478 pieces of content on Facebook (Mashable, 2012). An increasingly amount of this data stream is geolocated, from Check-ins via Foursquare through to Tweets and searches via Google Now, the data cities and individuals emit can be collected and viewed to make the data city visible, aiding our understanding of now only how urban systems operate but opening up the possibility of a real-time view of the city at large (Hudson-Smith, 2013). The talk explores systems such as The City Dashboard ( and the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) in terms of data collection, visualization and analysis. Joining these up creates a move towards the Smart City and via innovations in IoT a look towards augmented reality pointing towards the the creation of a 'Smart Citizen' and ultimately a Smart City.

November 24, 2013

Single layer tin could Conduct Electricity with 100 Percent Efficiency at Room Temperature

A single layer of tin atoms could be the world’s first material to conduct electricity with 100 percent efficiency at the temperatures that computer chips operate, according to a team of theoretical physicists led by researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

Researchers call the new material "stanene," combining the Latin name for tin (stannum) with the suffix used in graphene, another single-layer material whose novel electrical properties hold promise for a wide range of applications.

"Stanene could increase the speed and lower the power needs of future generations of computer chips, if our prediction is confirmed by experiments that are underway in several laboratories around the world," said the team leader, Shoucheng Zhan

Switzerland votes down Measure to limit Executive pay

Swiss voters have rejected a proposal that would have limited executive pay to 12 times that of the lowest paid. The referendum saw 65.3% vote against the plan with 34.7% in favour.

The country is home to a range of giant businesses, including pharmaceutical companies Novartis and Roche, the insurance groups Zurich and Swiss Re and the banks UBS and Credit Suisse.

The rules would have given Switzerland the world's toughest pay rules and some of the lowest executive salaries.

Business leaders said that would limit foreign investment and the government was also opposed to the proposal.

Early next year, Switzerland will hold another referendum on a guaranteed minimum wage.

Across the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of companies, the average multiple of CEO compensation to that of rank-and-file workers is 204, up 20 percent since 2009, the data show. The numbers are based on industry-specific estimates for worker compensation.

Lingering warming effect would mean that in less than 7 more years of emissions the 2 degree warming level will be reached

If this is the case then it is clear that the 750 billion ton level (which is another 250 billion tons and we are adding about 40 billion tons each year) will be breached. Humanity would then need to use technology to extract CO2 instead of relying upon natural environmental mechanisms to deal with the CO2.

Even if carbon dioxide emissions came to a sudden halt, the carbon dioxide already in Earth's atmosphere could continue to warm our planet for hundreds of years, according to Princeton University-led research published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study suggests that it might take a lot less carbon than previously thought to reach the global temperature scientists deem unsafe.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global temperatures a mere 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than pre-industrial levels would dangerously interfere with the climate system. To avoid that point would mean humans have to keep cumulative carbon dioxide emissions below 1,000 billion tons of carbon, about half of which has already been put into the atmosphere since the dawn of industry.

The lingering warming effect the researchers found, however, suggests that the 2-degree point may be reached with much less carbon, said first author Thomas Frölicher, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton's Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences under co-author Jorge Sarmiento, the George J. Magee Professor of Geoscience and Geological Engineering.

"If our results are correct, the total carbon emissions required to stay below 2 degrees of warming would have to be three-quarters of previous estimates, only 750 billion tons instead of 1,000 billion tons of carbon," said Frölicher, now a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. "Thus, limiting the warming to 2 degrees would require keeping future cumulative carbon emissions below 250 billion tons, only half of the already emitted amount of 500 billion tons.”

CRISPR Cas Powerful Possibilities for Genetic Engineering

The CRISPR-Cas-system is not only valuable for bacteria but also for working in the laboratory. It detects a specific sequence of letters in the genetic code and cuts the DNA at this point. Thus, scientists can either remove or add genes at the interface. By this, for instance, plants can be cultivated which are resistant against vermins or fungi. Existing technologies doing the same thing are often expensive, time consuming or less accurate. In contrast to them the new method is faster, more precise and cheaper, as fewer components are needed and it can target longer gene sequences.

Additionally, this makes the system more flexible, as small changes allow the technology to adapt to different applications. “The CRISPR-Cas-system is a very powerful tool for genetic engineering,“ says Emmanuelle Charpentier, who came to the HZI from Umeå and was awarded with the renowned Humboldt Professorship in 2013. “We have analysed and compared the enzyme Cas9 and the dual-tracrRNAs-crRNAs that guide this enzyme site-specifically to the DNA in various strains of bacteria.” Their findings allow them to classify the Cas9 proteins originating from different bacteria into groups. Within those the CRISPR-Cas systems are exchangeable which is not possible between different groups.

This allows for new ways of using the technology in the laboratory: The enzymes can be combined and thereby a variety of changes in the target-DNA can be made at once. Thus, a new therapy for genetic disorders caused by different mutations in the DNA of the patient could be on the horizon. Furthermore, the method could be used to fight the AIDS virus HIV which uses a receptor of the human immune cells to infect them. Using CRISPR-Cas, the gene for the receptor could be removed and the patients could become immune to the virus. However, it is still a long way until this aim will be reached.

Global Carbon dioxide emissions are 61 percent higher than in 1990 and still increasing at about 2 percent per year so renewable energy needs nuclear energy to help displace coal for the next one hundred years

Global carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels will rise to a record 36 billion metric tons (39.683 billion tons) this year, a report by 49 researchers from 10 countries said, showing the failure of governments to rein in the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.

The report by the Global Carbon Project, which compiles data from research institutes worldwide each year, was published in the journal Earth Systems Data Discussions.

Its 2013 estimate represents a 2.1 percent gain versus 2012 and a 61 percent increase since 1990, the baseline year for the U.N.'s Kyoto Protocol, the only global agreement that places binding limits on national CO2 emission levels.

The report shows that the rate of growth in global CO2 emissions is down slightly on the previous year's 2.2 percent increase but is only slightly lower than the average growth of 2.7 percent a year in the last 10 years.

Emissions are increasing because strong growth in coal consumption has outweighed any reductions from the rapid growth in renewable energy in recent years. Current trends indicate about 20 years to stopping the growth of carbon emissions. This would be at a level 30-40% higher than the level of today. Another fifteen years after that to bring the carbon emissions down to todays levels and another fifteen years to get it back to 1990 levels. Clearly if this is considered a problem then increasing nearly carbon free generation from nuclear power is needed to help renewables more rapidly bend the curve more rapidly.

The reports and slides for the report are here

Japan shifting from nuclear to more coal power and Southern USA shifts to more natural gas, nuclear and renewables and less coal

Japan replacing Fukushima nuclear power with coal power not solar power or wind power

Tokyo Electric Power Co will tie up with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Mitsubishi Corp and Mitsubishi Electric to build integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) stations.

Mitsubishi group companies will have a majority of stake in the new plants while cash-strapped Tepco will be in charge of running the facilities, which they plan to put online around 2020.

The new IGCC technology, which will increase power output by 20 percent from conventional coal power plants, using the same amount of fuel.

Three nuclear reactors suffered core meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant north of Tokyo after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Tennessee Valley Authority Shifing to more Natural gas and Nuclear Energy and less Coal Power

The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will retire more than 3 GW at eight coal units in Alabama and Kentucky to address “challenging trends” that point to lower power demand, a slow economy, uncertainty in commodity pricing, and tougher air pollution rules.

About 43% of the TVA’s power was generated from coal in fiscal year 2013, by 10 coal plants consisting of 46 active units with a capacity of 12,901 MW. After the planned retirements take place, the TVA expects to have 9,098 MW of coal-fired generation, a steep drop from the 14,573 it had in September 2010.

In fiscal year 2013, 36% of the TVA’s power came from nuclear, 12% came from hydro, 9% came from gas and oil, and less than 1% came from non-hydro renewable resources. According to board documents, the company anticipates that its future generation mix will comprise 40% nuclear, 20% coal, 20% gas, and 20% hydro and other renewables.

Nearly a Hyperbolic curve for shaving blades

echnology as well as marketing determines the rate at which new shaving blades are introduced. Although not common or popular there are six and even 12 bladed shavers. Every additional blade adds weight and size to a razor. Firms must therefore find ways of making both razor and blades lighter, which means thinner blades, more closely spaced, made of special materials, with new coatings. The addition of shaving blades is following a hyperbolic curve in terms of shaving systems that are commercially available.

The Stoltz Revolution Razor is the first to use 12 blades (or Tri-Quad™ Technology). Developed in Germany, the Stolz Revolution is the first shaver to promise uncompromising one-stroke efficient shaving.

Israel’s calls the Iran Nuclear deal an ‘historic mistake’

Israeli leaders denounced the interim Iranian nuclear pact signed by the United States and five world powers as a “historic mistake” that does little to reverse Iran’s nuclear ambitions and instead makes the world a more dangerous place.

Israeli officials stressed that they would spend the next six months — the time frame for the interim agreement — seeking to push their friends and especially the White House to reach a deal with Iran that not only curbs Iran’s nuclear ambitions but also dismantles its program.

Israel wants to require Iran to dismantle its centrifuges, remove its enriched uranium and decommission its heavy water reactor in Arak, among other things, in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

“Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world,” the Israeli prime minister said.

Netanyahu repeated a reference to his own red line by stating, “Israel will not allow Iran to develop a military nuclear capability.”

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 184

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 184 is up at Hiroshima Syndrome.

Nuke Power Talk - One reactor order equals a renaissance, and one shutdown shows that nuclear power is on its deathbed. The truth, as usual, is much more complicated than either extreme.

The announcements of nuclear reactor shutdowns this year mainly represent anomalies. In particular, 3 of the 4 units (2 at San Onofre and 1 at Crystal River) and are due to steam generator replacements gone wrong. He points out that this should be viewed against a backdrop of 110 steam generator replacements, 57 of them in the United States. Only one, Kewaunee, was the victim of market conditions. It is indeed possible that a few other plants, particularly older, smaller, single units in merchant markets, might also be vulnerable, but just because 4 units close in one year, it does not mean that this is a trend.

The nuclear energy industry is a global enterprise with a global supply chain. It would be a mistake to gauge its health by taking a snapshot of one country at a single point in time.

The Other 50 year anniversary Doctor Who

Friday was the 50 year anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Saturday was the 50 year anniversary of Doctor Who.

the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who - titled The Day of the Doctor was shown last night. The article through this link has spoilers.

This is an episode which is steeped in Doctor Who's own history. It sees The (11th) Doctor (Matt Smith) cross paths with The (10th) Doctor (David Tennant) and another Doctor, the mysterious War Doctor (John Hurt).

Nuclear Deal with Iran

There is a deal to limit Irans nuclear program with the USA and five other countries

Iran and six major powers agreed early Sunday on an historic deal that freezes key parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for temporary relief on some economic sanctions, diplomats confirmed.The deal was reached after four days of marathon bargaining and an 11th-hour intervention by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other foreign ministers from Europe, Russia and China. the sources said.The agreement, sealed at 3 a.m. signing ceremony in Geneva’s Palace of Nations, requires Iran to halt or scale back parts of it nuclear infrastructure, the first such pause in more than a decade.

The deal stipulates that Iran will commit to halt uranium enrichment above 5 percent and also to neutralize its stockpile of near-20 percent enriched uranium. The Islamic Republic has also committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity. Iran will also halt work at its plutonium reactor and provide access to nuclear inspectors.

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