January 11, 2014

Dwave has a 1000 qubit quantum computer now in their lab and will release in later in 2014

The Washington Post reports that Dwave has a 1000 qubit quantum computer in their lab.

The Washington Post interviewed Jeremy Hilton, D-Wave's vice president of processor development. Jeremy has been at the company since 2000.

Right now, we [Dwave Systems] have a 1000 qubit processor in our lab. Dwave has a plan to release it later in 2014. The major thing that's changing aside from some of the design details is the scale of the problem you can represent, going from a 500-variable graph to a 1000-variable graph. Complexity of that is growing tremendously. [It leads to an] unimaginable exponential blowup of the number of solutions. That scale of problems is getting that much harder for classical algorithms to solve.

[After that] we're planning to release a 2000-bit processor design. That's pushing into a scale of territory where we're tackling problems that are very difficult for people to solve [with conventional methods]. The community is working on getting a few qubits to work at the scale they're trying to work at.

Dwave saw that between that 128 qubit and 512 qubit, there was a 300,000x improvement in performance. That kind of performance gain is really unprecedented.

Yes China probably has total debt of 220% of GDP but do not lie about other countries the US total debt is in the 280-360% range depending upon what you count

Various sources have claimed that China's total debt has increased from 125% of GDP in 2008 to 198-230% of GDP in 2013. They erroneously say that US total debt is 72%. US federal government debt was at that level but US total debt is up around 250-400%.

This is not a "China is great" article. It is mainly to correct fear mongering and lies by some China bears. The US and China are financially and economically very strong. They both have deep capabilities to overcome huge problems. Of course it would be better to manage each more intelligently and avoid needlessly testing when their systems would actually break.

Global Finance magazine provides a rundown of the total debt of all the major countries. A country’s “total debt” includes government debt as well as the debt of financial institutions, non-financial businesses and households. For the 10 largest mature economies (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, South Korea, UK and US), total debt stood at nearly 350% of GDP in 2011. If one considers the economies of the PIIGS countries (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Spain and Greece,) those worst hit by the debt crisis in Europe, total debt was almost 400% of GDP.

The McKinsey Global Institute report from Jan 2012 Debt and deleveraging: Uneven progress on the path to growth has the main information on total debt

Including asset backed securities (ABS) US total debt would equal 350%-360%. Asset-backed securities are removed from McKinsey data since underlying mortgages and other loans are already included, so it would reflect a duplication within the data, according to McKinsey. Other data sources, including the FT, The Economist and Morgan Stanley, do include ABS in total debt figures.

What were the ten big things at the 2014 CES ?

Here are the top themes at the 2014 Consumer Electronics show

* Wearables: From connected socks and bras to baby clothing, wearable technology with the ability to transform computing was an overriding theme at the huge electronics fair.

* The Internet of Things. Embedded technology

* Intuitive computing: Technology firms want to get rid of the mouse and touchpad. New computer and gaming hardware at the show was imbued with software that recognizes gesture, voice and even eye movements as people are freed to interact with devices naturally instead of having to click on icons or use touchscreens

The rest were

TVs, smart cars, smart homes and smartphones

Robotics, drones and 3D printing

Cyborg Era Has Started

Medical implants, complex interfaces between brain and machine or remotely controlled insects: Recent developments combining machines and organisms have great potentials, but also give rise to major ethical concerns. In their review entitled “Chemie der Cyborgs – zur Verknüpfung technischer Systeme mit Lebewesen” (The Chemistry of Cyborgs – Interfacing Technical Devices with Organisms), KIT scientists discuss the state of the art of research, opportunities, and risks.

Translated abstract - Chemistry of cyborgs - to link technical systems with living organism

Virgin Galactic has a third powered flight and goes to 13.4 miles and Mach 1.4

Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, successfully completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). In command on the flight deck of SS2 for the first time under rocket power was Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay. Mackay, along with Scaled Composites’ (Scaled) Test Pilot Mark Stucky, tested the spaceship’s Reaction Control System (RCS) and the newly installed thermal protection coating on the vehicle’s tail booms. All of the test objectives were successfully completed.

Today’s flight departed Mojave Air and Space Port at 7:22 a.m. PST with the first stage consisting of the WhiteKnightTwo (WK2) carrier aircraft lifting SS2 to an altitude around 46,000 ft. At the controls of WK2 were Virgin Galactic Pilot Mike Masucci and Scaled Test Pilot Mike Alsbury. On release, SS2’s rocket motor was ignited, powering the spaceship to a planned altitude of 71,000 ft. – SS2’s highest altitude to date – and at a maximum speed of Mach 1.4. SS2’s unique feather re-entry system was also tested during today’s flight.

Two important SS2 systems, the RCS and thermal protection coating, were tested during today’s flight in preparation for upcoming full space flights. The spaceship’s RCS will allow its pilots to maneuver the vehicle in space, permitting an optimal viewing experience for those on board and aiding the positioning process for spacecraft re-entry. The new reflective protection coating on SS2’s inner tail boom surfaces is being evaluated to help maintain vehicle skin temperatures while the rocket motor is firing.

Imaging of interfacial water with submolecular resolution

Water/solid interfaces are vital to our daily lives and are also a central theme across an incredibly wide range of scientific disciplines. Resolving the internal structure, that is, the O–H directionality, of water molecules adsorbed on solid surfaces has been one of the key issues of water science yet it remains challenging. Using a low-temperature scanning tunnelling microscope, we report submolecular-resolution imaging of individual water monomers and tetramers on NaCl(001) films supported by a Au(111) substrate at 5 K. The frontier molecular orbitals of adsorbed water were directly visualized, which allowed discrimination of the orientation of the monomers and the hydrogen-bond directionality of the tetramers in real space. Comparison with ab initio density functional theory calculations reveals that the ability to access the orbital structures of water stems from the electronic decoupling effect provided by the NaCl films and the precisely tunable tip–water coupling

Water monomers adsorbed on NaCl(001)/Au(111).

Breaking Good by breaking the diffraction limit resolution barrier and possibly enabling early cancer detection

Nature Scientific Reports has Breaking the diffraction-limited resolution barrier in fiber-optical two-photon fluorescence endoscopy by an azimuthally-polarized beam

Although fiber-optical two-photon endoscopy has been recognized as a potential high-resolution diagnostic and therapeutic procedure in vivo, its resolution is limited by the optical diffraction nature to a few micrometers due to the low numerical aperture of an endoscopic objective. On the other hand, stimulated emission depletion (STED) achieved by a circularly-polarized vortex beam has been used to break the diffraction-limited resolution barrier in a bulky microscope. It has been a challenge to apply the STED principle to a fiber-optical two-photon endoscope as a circular polarization state cannot be maintained due to the birefringence of a fiber. Here, we demonstrate the first fiber-optical STED two-photon endoscope using an azimuthally-polarized beam directly generated from a double-clad fiber. As such, the diffraction-limited resolution barrier of fiber-optical two-photon endoscopy can be broken by a factor of three. Our new accomplishment has paved a robust way for high-resolution in vivo biomedical studies.

The technique has potential uses for brain imaging, early cancer detection and minimally invasive surgical procedures as well as the development of new tests for drugs and other treatments.

Experimental results have demonstrated that the diffraction-limited resolution barrier can be broken by a factor of 3. Consequently, the highest image resolution of 310 nm is achieved for the endoscopic probe of NA = 0.35, which should correspond to the image resolution of 75 nm if the NA was 1.2.

Metamaterial superlens for vastly improved wireless power transfer by focusing magnetic fields and on the way to practical power charging hot spots

Duke University researchers have demonstrated the feasibility of wireless power transfer using low-frequency magnetic fields over distances much larger than the size of the transmitter and receiver.

The advance comes from a team of researchers in Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering, who used metamaterials to create a “superlens” that focuses magnetic fields. The superlens translates the magnetic field emanating from one power coil onto its twin nearly a foot away, inducing an electric current in the receiving coil.

The experiment was the first time such a scheme has successfully sent power safely and efficiently through the air with an efficiency many times greater than what could be achieved with the same setup minus the superlens.

Going forward, Urzhumov wants to drastically upgrade the system to make it more suitable for realistic power transfer scenarios, such as charging mobile devices as they move around in a room. He plans to build a dynamically tunable superlens, which can control the direction of its focused power cone.

If successful, the usable volume of “power hot spots” should be substantially expanded. It may not be easy, however, to maintain the efficiency of the power beam as it gets steered to a high degree. But that is a challenge that Urzhumov and his colleagues look forward to dealing with.

Each side of each constituent cube of the “superlens” is set with a long, spiraling copper coil. The end of each coil is connected to its twin on the reverse side of the wall. Credit courtesy of Guy Lipworth, graduate student researcher at Duke University

Nature Scientific Reports - Magnetic Metamaterial Superlens for Increased Range Wireless Power Transfer

January 10, 2014

Roadable VTOL Aircraft and Modular Cargo Systems

Advanced Tactics Inc., a small aerospace company, released details about its AT Transformer vehicle technology and announced that a full-scale technology demonstrator has completed its first driving tests.

The interior volume is comparable to a Blackhawk helicopter, making it well-suited for cargo missions as well. In 2012, Advanced Tactics began work on the AT Panther Transformer, a similar vehicle designed specifically for Special Operations missions. It is a low-cost vehicle that carries two passengers and their gear, is transportable in a CV-22 Osprey cargo hold, and is operable with minimal training. This vehicle is shown below and will be used to transport passengers to a remote location that is inaccessible by traditional air or ground based means.

The Black Knight and Panther Transformers both utilize the AT Transformer technology, which leverages the simplicity and robustness of a “multicopter” helicopter at a full-scale size. Like the small electric multicopters that are prevalent today, the AT Transformer uses engines with a direct drive connection to prop-rotors. The components of the propulsion system, including the engines and prop-rotors, are low-cost commercially available parts and the aircraft’s structure is made of modular field-replaceable components. Like an electric multicopter, the vehicle is stabilized and controlled by differential thrust between opposing sets of prop-rotors. This design is simple and robust, eliminating the mechanical complexity and cost of the articulated rotor system that stabilizes and controls a conventional helicopter and replacing it with a high-speed computerized feedback control system. Additionally, the configuration negates the need for a tail-rotor or engine transmission. The AT Transformer has the ability to perform controlled engine-out flight in case of a critical component failure.

The AT Black Knight Transformer, the world’s first roadable VTOL aircraft. It is designed to be a low-cost rapid response ambulance to evacuate wounded soldiers from the battlefield or transport cargo.

Supercomputer and Quantum Computer code breaking will get secrets of the lazy, unsophisticated and the sloppy

The NSA and any future chinese supercodebreaking supercomputer or quantum computers will get all of the secrets of the lazy and the sloppy.

These are systems for the spies who want to stay in their armchairs to gather pictures from spy satellites and filter easedropped phonecalls and emails. Basic steps can be taken to fool those using satellites if you know they are being used.

Any comparable opponent would know about these systems and their capabilities.

For foiling codebreaking there are quantum computer algorithms and onetime pads and lowtech methods.
The sophisticated opponent would then feed disinformation into vulnerable systems while working on secure systems.

For now electronics systems can be made secure by lengthening the number of security bits until it would take a planet full of computronium to break it.

Japan claims 280 uninhabited islands but does not say exactly where

The South China Morning Post reports that Japan three days ago said it will accelerate the nationalisation of 280 uninhabited islands in a bid to strengthen control of the country's maritime territory.

Ichita Yamamoto, minister for oceanic policies and territorial issues, said Tokyo would formally register the remote islands, which are among the more than 400 land features that define Japan's territorial waters.

Tokyo earlier claimed the need for forming a national security council as a response to China's increasing military assertiveness. But Chinese scholars viewed it as Japan's attempt to rearm itself and increase its military presence in the region.

Both moves announced by Tokyo yesterday could further fuel tensions between Japan and its neighbours China and South Korea.

The locations of these 280 islands are not known yet and it is not clear whether they are contested by other countries. When asked by the South China Morning Post, the secretariat of the Headquarters for Ocean Policy in Japan said the islands were "all around Japan" and were not under dispute. Media reports have said that these islands are without owners, and some of them are even nameless.

Yamamoto said that Tokyo had finished the nationalisation of 99 remote islands within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) by August 2011.

China is researching diamond quantum chips with qubits tempered by over 45 tesla magnets to achieve a code breaking quantum supercomputer

The South China Morning Post reports that China, the US and other major powers are racing to develop another game-changer in intelligence encryption - the first quantum supercomputer, which would become the ultimate code-breaker.

Quantum computers have so far existed mainly in the world of science fiction and research laboratories. But they hit the headlines recently after it was reported that the US National Security Agency had been building "a cryptologically useful quantum computer [in] room-sized metal boxes", according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden to The Washington Post.

The South China Morning Post also interviewed MITs Scott Aaronson who doubts that there is any NSA Manhattan Project of Quantum computers...yet

China is working on an ambitious project of its own and has built a new facility in Hefei , Anhui , in which to do it.

While there is no sign that China is close to developing a practical, working model, it has pulled out all the stops to build the ultimate code-breaker.

At leading universities, state research institutes and the military, scientists have been given the green light - and, one would assume, ample resources - by the government to create the first quantum supercomputer.

Researchers working on projects from the generation of the strongest ever man-made magnetic field to building a "quantum chip" from diamonds have been told by officials to get the job done, regardless of how much it costs.

The Steady High Magnetic Field Experimental Facility, housed in a three-storey complex on the Hefei Science Island, could be activated this year to create the extreme environment needed to make quantum computing possible.

The facility was designed to generate and maintain a magnetic field at 45 Tesla, a feat listed by Guinness World Records as being achieved only by the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in the US.

Once in operation, the new Hefei facility would likely exceed the 45 Tesla output

January 09, 2014

US crude oil production projected to be 9.3 million barrels per day in 2015

In its first forecast of the nation’s energy position in 2015, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projected Tuesday that oil producers will increase production by about 750,000 barrels of oil per day in 2015. That’s a drop from an expected daily increase of 1.03 million barrels in 2014 and the growth of the past two years.

Falling oil prices could dampen the incentive for energy companies to produce as much crude in 2015

EIA expects strong crude oil production growth, primarily concentrated in the Bakken Eagle Ford, and Permian regions, continuing through 2015. Forecast production increases from an estimated 7.5 million bbl/d in 2013 to 8.5 million bbl/d in 2014 and 9.3 million bbl/d in 2015. The highest historical annual average U.S. production level was 9.6 million bbl/d in 1970.

The EIA’s projected daily production of 9.3 million barrels per day in 2015 comes close to levels in 1972.

East Coast US cold drove natural gas prices up 20 times to $100 per thousand cubic feet

In a normal early-January week the draw on natural gas inventories is about 170 billion cubic feet. This week, according to market watcher Bentek, the drawdown is expected to be on the order of 310 bcf (almost double) — the most ever.

The record demand stretched supplies in the Northeast. In the New York region on Monday prices for natural gas reached a record $100 per mmBTU. This is natural gas we’re talking about, not gasoline or oil. A week before spot prices were on the order of $4.25 per mmBTU.

The price shock was felt as far south as east Texas, where spot prices were up to $40.20 per mmBTU, nearly matching the record set back in 2004.

There’s also anecdotal reports of coal-fired plants going offline because their coal slurries froze up. As a result, during the deep freeze, nuclear power made up a bigger portion of the power supply pie, while some generators had to resort to the emergency measure of firing up their boilers with heating oil.

Some green environmentalists like to talk about reductions in nuclear power generation during heatwaves in France. Perhaps hundreds of seniors died in heatwaves in Europe. I am curious if they had the air conditioners installed which could be turned on in case of hot weather. They apparently could not go to the 24 hour Supermarket where there was air conditioning. In this case nuclear power was part of saving people from the cold.

Are we at a tipping point for jobs and society ?

Let us look again at the UK report on automation of jobs. It indicates that 47% of jobs are in danger of being automated within 1 to 2 decades. The report that looked at 702 different occupations and ranked them based on how likely they are to be automatable based on advances in machine learning, machine vision and robotics. The report only predicts that probability that a job could, eventually, be automated, not that it will be automated.

Technoccult points out that it doesn’t address other supply and demand issues. For example, there are more law school graduates now than ever, so although most legal work can’t be automated, it doesn’t make law a “safe” profession. It also doesn’t address the effects of some portion of work becoming automated, thus reducing the number of people needed. To use law as an example again, software tools make the discovery process easier, reducing the number of lawyers and paralegals required to do that task. In journalism, some types of reporting have already been successfully automated.

Business models, rapid growth of disruptive companies combined with technology make are creating waves of disruption.

* Redbox and Netflix and Youtube disrupted or are disrupting Blockbuster and traditional media
* The internet and highspeed broadband disrupting traditional media
* Quickbooks and Turbotax disrupting traditional bookkeeping
* legalzoom disrupting law profession
* Also continual business outsourcing combined with domestic companies and automation to take work to India and the Philippines and other places

Artificial Intelligence for banking - but not programmed trading for big companies but advice for the 1%

DBS Bank and IBM today announced an agreement in which DBS will deploy IBM’s Watson cognitive computing innovation to deliver a next- generation client experience. This collaboration is part of an ongoing journey by DBS to shape the future of banking.

For a start, DBS intends to apply Watson to its wealth management business to improve the advice and experience delivered to affluent customers. Watson is a cloud-based technology that can process enormous amounts of information with the ability to understand and learn from each interaction at unprecedented speed, representing a significant shift in the ability for organizations to quickly analyze, understand and respond to vast amounts of Big Data.

DBS’ implementation of IBM’s cloud-based Watson Engagement Advisor solution – targeted for rollout in the second half of the year – comes as the bank continues to execute on strategy to be a leading regional wealth player. DBS will look to progressively deploy these capabilities to its other businesses over time.

IBM is making a multi-billion bet on Watson Artificial Intelligence for a Siri for Science and Business

This is IBM attempting to use enterprise artificial intelligence to accelerate technology in science, medicine and business. If they succeed this could be the first real artificial intelligence acceleration of technological development and they are attempting to enhance the productivity of science and business. It is a huge lift that is being attempted and it would not be a fast iteration of improvement. It is not like the vision of vastly greater than human level artificial intelligence setting off an explosion of intelligence.

IBM unveiled three new Watson services delivered over the cloud.

1) Watson Discovery Advisor, is designed to accelerate and strengthen research and development projects in industries such as pharmaceutical, publishing and biotechnology.

2) Watson Analytics, delivers visualized Big Data insights, based on questions posed in natural language by any business user.

3) IBM Watson Explorer, helps users across an enterprise uncover and share data-driven insights more easily, while empowering organizations launch Big Data initiatives faster.

The services are being developed and will be offered by the new IBM Watson Group, announced today at an event in New York City. The Watson Group will accelerate a new class of cognitive computing services, software and apps into the marketplace that analyze, improve by learning, and discover answers and insights to complex questions from massive amounts of disparate data.

IBM is investing $1 billion into the Watson Business Group and $100 million in venture capital earmarks toward new Watson apps, and a shiny new Watson headquarters in New York's East Village neighborhood.

IBM wants to transform Watson into a Siri for business. The platform is designed for users to ask Watson questions, with Watson giving answers--such as medical diagnoses for hard-to-diagnose diseases, or the likely outcome of business decisions--on the spot.

China's horrible air pollution

In 2008, a detailed analysis of powerplants in China by MIT researchers debunked the widespread notion that outmoded energy technology or the utter absence of government regulation is to blame for that country's notorious air-pollution problems. The real issue, the study found, involves complicated interactions between new market forces, new commercial pressures and new types of governmental regulation.

After detailed survey and field research involving dozens of managers at 85 power plants across 14 Chinese provinces, Steinfeld and his co-authors, Richard Lester [58 page report] (professor, nuclear science and engineering and director of the MIT Industrial Performance Center) and Edward Cunningham (doctoral candidate, political science) found that in fact most of the new plants have been built to very high technical standards, using some of the most modern technologies available. The problem has to do with the way that energy infrastructure is being operated and the types of coals being burned.

New market pressures encourage plant managers to buy the cheapest, lowest quality and most-polluting coal available, while at the same time idle expensive-to-operate smokestack scrubbers or other cleanup technologies. The physical infrastructure is advanced, but the emissions performance ends up decidedly retrograde.

Air Pollution incidents have been particularly bad in the last year or two in China

Last January, Beijing’s level of fine particles, 2.5 microns in diameter or under and known as PM 2.5, reached at least 20 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization for a 24-hour period. This prompted a scrambling government to ram through new air-quality protections.

China's regulation to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants may be one of the most swiftly effective air pollution policies ever implemented anywhere. Those emissions fell sharply from 2006 to 2010, according to a new study by Chinese and American researchers that we took part in, preventing as many as 74,000 premature deaths from air pollution in 2010.

Fines were way too small. Penalties were cheaper than turning on pollution controls

In Sept, 2013, the Beijing government released its second draft of the regulation on Sept 25, scrapping the 1-million-yuan ($ 163,396) limit and adding five categories of illegal behavior to a list of those for which fines will be doubled.

In March 2013, in China, however, the maximum statutory fine for failing to operate the facilities of air pollutant treatment is 50,000 yuan ($7,653), and fines for violating emissions standards cost 100,000 yuan ($15,873) at most. Because it costs less for factories to pay penalty fees than to install emissions control equipment, businesses in China often ignore environmental regulations or opt to pay fines rather than comply with standards.

There was talk about executing those who are the biggest polluters in mid-2013 to quell populist protests.

So why are China’s efforts at emissions control falling short?

There are several reasons. One of them is China’s instinctual response to such challenges: a top-down approach to try to engineer its way through them according to master plans. The result is that China may be winning battles but not the wars on emissions control, because its faith in mandates has met its match: an economy that is growing too fast, and atmospheric challenges that are too multifaceted for even the smartest planners to tame.

Former Canadian Defence Minister Claims there are 80 different alien species living amongst us in an interview on Russia Today

There has not been enough comedic material coming from the Crack Smoking mayor of Toronto Rob Ford in the last few days. So former Canadian politician Paul Hellyer is picking up the slack. It is also still being broadcast from Toronto.

Former Canadian Defence minister Paul Hellyer went on television and declared that not only do aliens exist but that they walk amongst us and are responsible for some of our modern technology. Among these tech gifts are the microchip, LED light and Kevlar vest.

Hellyer, who served as Canada's Minister of National Defence in the 1960s, went on Russia Today’s program SophieCo to speak more about extraterrestrials.

Hellyer’s claim that we don’t have more alien technology because we treat each other poorly.

He also says - “[I’ve] been getting from various sources [that] there are about 80 different species and some of them look just like us and they could walk down the street and you wouldn’t know if you walked past one.

Hellyer used to believe that there were between 2 and 12 different species of alien. Now, he says he's received reports that there might be as many as 80.

He says the our alien visitors come from near (one of the Saturn moons) and far (the Pleiades and Zeta Reticuli star systems). Oh yeah, and they get here via a portal in the Andes mountains in Peru.

Where in the world are the 2.1 million deaths per year from 2.5 micron particulate air pollution happening

Occasionally, short-term meteorological conditions merge with ongoing human emissions to produce extreme outbreaks of air pollution. In January 2013, a blanket of industrial pollution enveloped northeastern China. In June 2013, smoke from agricultural fires in Sumatra engulfed Singapore.

In most cases, the most toxic pollution lingers for a few days or even weeks, bringing increases in respiratory and cardiac health problems at hospitals. Eventually the weather breaks, the air clears, and memories of foul air begin to fade. But that’s not to say that the health risks disappear as well. Even slightly elevated levels of air pollution can have a significant effect on human health. Over long periods and on a global scale, such impacts can add up.

But exactly how much exposure to air pollution do people around the world get? And how much health damage is it causing? Since there are gaps in networks of ground sensors, University of North Carolina earth scientist Jason West is leading an effort to answer those questions using computer models that simulate the atmosphere.

In 2013, they published their results in Environmental Research Letters, concluding that 2.1 million deaths occur worldwide each year as a direct result of a toxic type of outdoor air pollution known as fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

The deaths are compared to 1850. The southeastern US had a lot of crop burning in the 1800s. So they already had a lot of air pollution deaths compared to today.

60 minutes ran a segment claiming that Clean Technology has crashed and this has caused howling from those who support renewable power

CBS has the script from "The Cleantech Crash" which aired on Jan. 5, 2014. Lesley Stahl is the correspondent. Shachar Bar-On, producer.

Silicon Valley got Washington excited about it. President Bush was an early supporter, but the federal purse strings truly loosened under President Obama. Hoping to create innovation and jobs, he committed north of a $100 billion in loans, grants and tax breaks to Cleantech. But instead of breakthroughs, the sector suffered a string of expensive tax-funded flops. Suddenly Cleantech was a dirty word. The federal government has allocated a total of $150 billion to Cleantech – through loans, grants and tax breaks with little to show for it.

Former Energy Department under secretary, Physicist Steven Koonin, says there was a lot of arrogance. He thought the venture capitalists and Internet geniuses were underestimating the challenges of the energy sector. Managing risks that have to do with market, with supply, with operation, with regulation. And in the end, hoping that you get returns on a 20 or 30-year time scale.

Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but they must’ve known they weren’t going to get a payoff for 20 or 30 years.

Steven Koonin: I don’t think they understood that. The average venture capitalist likes to get in and out in about 3 to 5 years.

While other venture capitalists have withdrawn from the energy sector, Vinod Khosla is staying in, but with a lot of help from taxpayers. Over the years, the federal government has committed north of a hundred million dollars to his various Cleantech ventures and several states have pitched in hundreds of millions as well. But his critics say he’s in over his head.

Orbital Sciences successfully launched resupply mission to the space station

Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus spacecraft successfully launched its first cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station today. Coverage began via NASA TV at 9:15 a.m. PT/12:15 p.m. ET with the launch scheduled for just under an hour later.

The probability of acceptable weather has improved to 95 percent at the time of launch.

NASA's twitter feed indicates that fueling is underway.

They announced on twitter:

Solar array deployment is complete for #Cygnus on orbit, heading for a Sunday rendezvous with the #ISS on the #Orb1 mission.

Live streaming video by Ustream

Many Air pollution fighting companies in China had doubled sales in 2013 as air pollution is being mitigated at all power plants and buildings

The New York Times reports China’s government is struggling to meet pollution reduction targets and has pledged to spend more than 3 trillion renminbi, or almost $500 billion, to tackle the problem, creating a growing market for companies that can help increase energy efficiency and lower emissions.

“Recently, we haven’t been able to make products fast enough to keep up with demand,” said Hu Jie, a general manager at Broad Group, whose pollution-related products include hand-held monitors and environmentally friendly buildings. Sales about doubled in 2013 from the previous year, Mr. Hu said, without giving details.

BROAD Air Conditioning supplies non-electric central air conditioning powered by natural gas and waste heat with packaged water distribution system, 2 times more energy efficient than traditional central air conditioning.

BROAD Air Quality supplies heat recovery fresh air machines that can filter 99% PM2.5, mobile air quality monitors, air purifiers and central air conditioning terminal products.

BROAD Energy Service provides cooling-heating-power (CHP) operation service, district CHP projects with the BOT approach, and promotes energy-efficient project designs and operation through the contract mechanism.

BROAD Sustainable Building provides factory-made sustainable buildings featuring 90% pre-fabrication, 5 times more energy efficiency, 99% PM2.5 filtration as well as no collapse in 9- magnitude earthquake.

China’s clean-technology market is set to triple to $555 billion by 2020.

January 08, 2014

Classical computing and superalgorithms might do what we thought would need Quantum Computers

MIT researchers have a new framework for approximately solving
ow problems in capacitated, undirected graphs and apply it to provide asymptotically faster algorithms for the maximum s-t flow and maximum concurrent multicommodity flow problems.

For the first time there is an almost-linear-time construction of an O(mo(1))-competitive oblivious routing scheme. No previous such algorithm ran in time better than ( e mn). By reducing the running time to almost-linear, our work provides a powerful new primitive for constructing very fast
graph algorithms.

An Almost-Linear-Time Algorithm for Approximate Max Flow in Undirected Graphs, and its Multicommodity Generalizations

In optimization theory, maximum flow problems involve finding a feasible flow through a single-source, single-sink flow network that is maximum. The maximum flow problem can be seen as a special case of more complex network flow problems, such as the circulation problem. The maximum value of an s-t flow (i.e., flow from source s to sink t) is equal to the minimum capacity of an s-t cut (i.e., cut severing s from t) in the network, as stated in the max-flow min-cut theorem.

Maxflow problems are like airline scheduling.

China will have about 6 times as much electricity production as India in 2014

For 12 months spanning 2012-2013 (middle of year), India generated 907 billion KWh. This was about 3.7% growth from the prior year. With 4% growth India would have 940 billion KWh of power for 2013-2014. China had 5300 TWh of electical power in 2013 and should have about 5800 TWh in 2014.

The Second Transhuman Visions conference will be on March 1st , 2014

Brian Wang of Nextbigfuture will be speaking at the Second Transhuman Visions conference will be on March 1st , 2014.

The first Transhuman Visions conference is coming up on February 1st and has Aubrey de Grey and other speakers. It will be held at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

Max More and Natasha Vita-More are the Keynote Speakers of TRANSHUMAN VISIONS 2.0 - EAST BAY, plus there’s 15 other luminaries: John Smart, Zoltan Istvan, Monica Anderson, Brian Wang, Linda M. Glenn, Michael Anissimov, Grace Walcott, Hank Pellissier, Gray Scott, Dr. Egil Asprem, Kevin Russell, Brad Carmack, Abelard Lindsay, Andre Watson, Gennady Stolyarov II, Wendy Stolyarov, Andrez Gomez Emilsson, and the Terra Nova Robotics Club of Pacifica.

This posse of futurists will pontificate on topics like Nootropics, Artificial Intelligence, Radical Life Extension, Psychedelics, Polygamy, Existential Risks, Bioethics, Cryonics, Mormonism, Positive Futurism, The Singularity, Nanotechnology, and Robotics.

For everyone who couldn’t get tickets to the first event, for everyone who wants to return for more amazement, for everyone who finds the East Bay more convenient - you can get your tickets now via EVENTBRITE for TRANSHUMAN VISIONS 2.0 East Bay. Like the first event, this one is All-Day, from 8:30 am - 9:00 pm.

Venue is Piedmont Veteran’s Hall, 401 Highland Avenue, in Piedmont - between Magnolia Avenue & Vista Avenue. The auditorium seats 200 people, plus there’s a dining / merchant room, a kitchen, a lobby, a veranda, abundant parking, and a long balcony overlooking a spacious grassy park directly across the street.

Likely Economic Power of Tomorrow is seen in Power Infrastructure Today

The US is again generating about 4100 Terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity in 2013 as it did in 2012. The entire OECD (US, Europe, Japan, Australia and South Korea) is generating about 10300 TWh in 2013. The US and the developing economies are getting more economically energy efficient and can get about 1-2% more GDP off of the same power.

China generated about 5300 TWh in 2013. Total power generation was up 7.5% from 2012. This is 30% more power than the USA. China had 14% power growth in 2010 and 11.6% in 2011. So this is a slowdown from that growth.

85% of China's power is non-residential.
75% was primary or secondary industry.
Any new China power generation needs to match up to its industrial demand profile.

China's Electricity Council has a projection of its energy needs and construction plans.

The CEC estimates that electricity consumption in 2015 will be between 6,020 TWh and 6,610 TWh, based on lower and upper annual average growth projections of 7.5% and 9.5%, respectively. By 2020, consumption is estimated to range from 8,000 TWh to 8,810 TWh, based on annual average growth rates of 4.6% to 6.6% from 2016.

China's power generation is at 1180 GW at the end of 2013 and appears on track to about 1300-1400 GW in 2015

China's plan is to acquire the best commercial energy technology and scales up production

Chris Phoenix asked in the comments - Why is China not making a small investment of about $10 million into Lawrenceville Plasma Physics (LPP) which has an interesting dense plasma focus nuclear fusion effort ?

Several reasons.
1. China tends to acquire western energy technology and scales up production.

They acquire almost every commercial nuclear fission reactor out there and then gets the technology and supple chain transfered and then looks at which one(s) can be scaled up the most. It turns out it was a version of the french reactor for the second generation and the Westinghouse AP1000 for the third generation. However, they are looking at the 800 MWe Russian fast neutron reactor (building two) and pebble bed technology (which they got from the Germans). However, the fast neutron reactor already has had commercial operation for one 600 MWe unit for decades and the Pebble Bed already had working prototypes.

China also scooped up the best commercial solar and wind technology and built massive factories and scaled up production.

So China can look at LPP and wait for a working prototype and then come in and buy in at $100 million and scale them up with billions.

China operates more like a Cisco that buys late stage startups or scoops up small competitors.

If some energy technology is producing a few gigawatt hours and needs massive factories and tens of billions to get up many terawatt hours that is China's speciality. China's leadership is managing plans to get another 500-1000 Terawatt hours added per year. China is adding about ten times the amount of new energy production every year as the United States or Europe.

China is the major leagues of energy production.
Europe and the US are Triple A.
LPP has not shown that they can play ball yet. Get to net energy production and then they are a real prospect and worth some development into a commercializable prototype. The commercializable prototype could get put into the development farm system.

Adding a United States in energy every 4-6 years. Even the nuclear fission as they get to fourth in the world is just the commercial experimentation phase. The nuclear fission (120 TWh/year now and will add about 30-60 TWh this year) is behind hydro (about 1000 TWh and adding about 150 TWh per year) in terms of importance to China's near term energy portfolio. Hydro is where they make Three Gorges Dam equivalent every year or two and plan to dam every major river.

January 07, 2014

China will go to 4.8 billion tons of coal per year and will turn on the taps for artificial rain from skyscrapers to make air pollution tolerable

China is predicted to reach 4.8 billion metric tons per year by 2020, up from 3.65 billion tons in 2013. The prediction was made by China National Coal Association vice president Liang Jiakun. China uses about half of the world total in coal. Chinese coal production of 3.66 billion tonnes at the end of 2012 already accounts for nearly half the global total, according to official data. 1 billion tonnes is used in Europe and another 1 billion tons in the United States.

How much is 4.8 billion tons ? That is 600,000 110 car trains full of coal. The 110 cars each hold 100 tons of coal but about 25% of it is water weight. So only 8000 tons of coal per train which coal plants need every 1 to 3 days.

Coal is burnable dirt. The world is burning a literal mountain of it every year. It is so pollution because the burning converts it into CO2, particulates, smog and whatever else was mixed in with the dirt pile. If you burn 7 billion tons then if 1 part in 100,000 is mercury then that was 70,000 tons. If there was arsenic or flourine or whatever else there was hundreds to thousands to millions of tons of whatever it was.

The US can use less coal now because the US can get at cheaper burnable air. Natural gas.

China approved the construction of more than 100 million tonnes of new coal production capacity in 2013 - six times more than a year earlier and equal to 10 percent of U.S. annual usage - flying in the face of plans to tackle choking air pollution. The scale of the increase, which only includes major mines, reflects Beijing's aim to put 860 million tonnes of new coal production capacity into operation over the five years to 2015, more than the entire annual output of India.

China's cities are choked with pollution. Some days getting up to 1000 micrograms of particulates per cubic meter. About 9% of the level of the 12000 micrograms per cubic meter during the london fog of 1952, where peoples lips would turn blue and they would suffocate and collapse [12000 dead over a few days]. So China will make artificial rain from skyscrapers to bring the air pollution down for horrible to just very bad. Building the water spraying from most every skyscraper is a solution that is right up China's sweet spot. They get to build their way out and with hydro projects. They get to use all of the thousands of skyscrapers to help and developers will get some extra money. During the Beijing Olympics, China used cloud seeding to make it rain and reduce air pollution levels.

In terms of a prediction, I am absolutely certain that China will build water spraying systems from its skyscrapers and this will happen within 3 years in many cities. Some might say but what about the side effects. China will push ahead quickly and manage the problems. There current problems are causing massive health problems (300,000-500,000 dead each year) and unrest.

The largest cloud seeding system in the world is that of the People's Republic of China, which believes that it increases the amount of rain over several increasingly arid regions, including its capital city, Beijing, by firing silver iodide rockets into the sky where rain is desired. There is even political strife caused by neighboring regions that accuse each other of "stealing rain" using cloud seeding. About 24 countries currently practice weather modification operationally. China used cloud seeding in Beijing just before the 2008 Olympic Games in order to clear the air of pollution, but there are disputes regarding the Chinese claims. In February 2009, China also blasted iodide sticks over Beijing to artificially induce snowfall after four months of drought, and blasted iodide sticks over other areas of northern China to increase snowfall.

City Scale Water spraying from skyscrapers would be artificial rain to clean air pollution for mitigating haze in China

In the past 30 years, China has suffered from air pollution and heavy haze created by fast industrial growth and economic expansion. An Environmental Chemistry Letter research journal article reviews the techniques for remediation of air pollution. A geoengineering method is proposed for mitigating air pollution and haze in China’s cities by using water to scavenge air pollution. Here, water should be sprayed into the atmosphere like watering garden. The scientific rationale and mechanism for the geoengineering scheme are explained. It is found that precipitation scavenging coefficients are very sensitive to the size distributions of both aerosol and raindrops, and rain intensity. I found that the water spray geoengineering method can reduce the PM2.5 pollution in the atmosphere very efficiently to 35 μg m−3 level [World Health Organization level which is about ten times less than the bad days in China's major cities] in a very short time period from few minutes to hours or days, depending on the precipitation characteristics. In addition, the water spray geoengineering method has excellent advantages such as rapidity, already available technology, low cost, and a nature-like process. This proposed geoengineering scheme can be one of the answers for fighting air pollution in the cities globally.

China has planned to spend hundreds of billions to fight air pollution. Deploying these systems on a large scale might only be a few million per skyscraper.

Research and experiments are underway to design a suitable water delivery system for this plan. The system would have the added benefit of improving the high rise fire fighting capabilities.

If you can spend half an hour watering your garden, you can also spend 30 minutes watering your ambient atmosphere to keep the air clean with this technique. China’s air pollution was responsible for 350,000 to 500,000 deaths in 2013. In a December 2013 paper published in Lancet, Zhu, whose term as Health minister ended last year, called China’s polluted air the “fourth biggest threat to the health of Chinese people” behind heart disease, dietary risk and smoking.

World Bank delays new Purchasing Power Parity GDP statistics and international comparisons until March 4-7, 2014

The 2011 round of the International Comparison Program (ICP) results will include ICP 2011 benchmark PPPs (purchasing power parity) and related volume measures for 199 participating countries/economies.

Given the complex nature of the ICP and the fact that it has become the largest worldwide statistical operation, the program decided that the December release will be postponed until March 2014.

The March 2014 release of the results will coincide with the 45th session of the United Nations Statistical Commission, which will be held March 4-7, 2014. The final report of the ICP 2011 will be released in April 2014, and will provide an in-depth analysis of volume and per capita measures and include information such as the country survey coverage.

These are important numbers because purchasing power parity numbers are used for calculating and comparing poverty levels and factors into how much foreign aid a country gets.

The 2011 data release is important because it is expected to correct the 2005 numbers where China and India had understated purchasing power because the prices of large cities were used across the entire countries. This ignored the fact that things are much cheaper in rural areas and small cities. This is like assuming that everything in the USA is as expensive as living in Manhattan. China and India will probably get 25-45% jump in GDP purchasing power parity to reverse the 2005 downward adjustment.

In other GDP news, China will be trying to unify and standardize the GDP calculations at the local, regional and national level. Some might consider it an exercise in getting their lies straight.

I think there is up to about 5% inaccuracies in China's statistics for what they are designed to count but there are many critics who are far more critical of China's GDP numbers.I believe that China's numbers are understated by not capturing about 15% of the economy that is the underground economy. Bribes and other hidden income.

About 75% of the planets discovered the Kepler Space Telescope are mini-Neptunes

More than three-quarters of the planet candidates discovered by NASA's Kepler spacecraft have sizes ranging from that of Earth to that of Neptune, which is nearly four times as big as Earth. Such planets dominate the galactic census but are not represented in our own solar system. Astronomers don’t know how they form or if they are made of rock, water or gas.

The Kepler team today reports on four years of ground-based follow-up observations targeting Kepler's exoplanet systems at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington. These observations confirm the numerous Kepler discoveries are indeed planets and yield mass measurements of these enigmatic worlds that vary between Earth and Neptune in size.

Included in the findings are five new rocky planets ranging in size from ten to eighty percent larger than Earth. Two of the new rocky worlds, dubbed Kepler-99b and Kepler-406b, are both forty percent larger in size than Earth and have a density similar to lead. The planets orbit their host stars in less than five and three days respectively, making these worlds too hot for life as we know it.

Megapixel display for augmented reality with full field of view with glasses that project display onto a contact lens - full resolution display and full field of view

Innovega developer of full field of view HUD eyeglasses, staff will be wearing fully functional prototpes prototypes of its mega-pixel eyewear at its booth at 2014 CES. Steve Willey, Innovega CEO, explains, "at last year's CES event we demonstrated new eyewear optics that offered to the wearer a clear and simultaneous view of both their personal digital media and of their immediate surroundings. The big news for 2014 is that our team has succeeded in advancing the platform from feasibility demonstration to wearable, contact lens-enabled, full-function, mega-pixel eyewear.

Since early adopters are often those with the lowest 'switching costs' Innovega forecasts the iOptik personal media early adopters will be the more than one hundred million global consumers who already wear and enjoy contact lenses. This group includes more than 20% of North American 18 to 34 year-olds who already wear contact lenses. This 18-34 year-old contact lens wearer demographic represents the same consumers who are today's drivers of demand for gaming, smartphone, and other media-rich applications. Once the unique benefits of iOptik are understood, Innovega forecasts other market segments whose constituents have been prevented from enjoying rich, mobile media will follow. Early adopters from the global video gaming community will respond quickly to secure the benefits that contact lens wearers will already be enjoying."

The Innovega eyewear system is thus comprised of two elements: 1) flat-panels or micro-projectors that are integrated into stylish eyeglasses that provide a gateway for any available media; and 2) novel iOptik contact lenses that deliver a crisp view of both near-eye rich media and as a bonus an improved view of the environment, since almost half of humans require some form of vision correction,. The contact lenses utilize modern fabrication methods and are worn in the usual fashion with or without the Innovega eyewear. When the eyeglasses are worn, any available media are instantly streamed on a transparent lens so the wearer's view of their surroundings is not obstructed. The benefit of simultaneously offering vision correction is particularly important to Asian consumer segments where the prevalence of nearsightedness is near twice that of their non-Asian counterparts".

January 06, 2014

Golden Spike estimates that they could repeat Apollo manned mission to the moon for $6.4 billion and make repeated trips for $1.5 billion each

Golden Spike has detailed plans for a lunar return using existing assets. The recent successful Spacex flights are improving the viability of Golden Spike and its plans to return to the moon before 2020.

Golden Spike estimates that they could repeat Apollo 11 for about $6.4 billion and make repeated manned trips to the moon for about $1.5 billion for each trip.

Here are the budgets of different space agencies

India might want to send manned missions to the moon. They have sent robotic missions to the moon and Mars

In 2004, When President Bush established his new space exploration policy to return humans to the moon, NASA estimated the policy would cost $230 billion (in 2004 dollars) through 2025. This figure includes the Commercial Crew and Cargo program, which is separate from the Constellation program. NASA has estimated that the Constellation program would cost over $97 billion (in 2008 dollars) through 2020, half of which would be for Ares I and Orion.

The Apollo program cost $24 billion in 1969 dollars which is about $150 billion today.

The Golden Spike Company is intent on achieving affordable, reliable, and frequent human expeditions to the Moon. Their space expeditions will be marketed and sold to governmental agencies, companies, and individuals in the United States and around the world—for science, for commerce, for tourism, for entertainment engagement, and for education.

Golden Spike will monetize these expeditions through:

Expedition sales
Public participation/membership in expeditions
Media rights, brand licensing, and expedition advertising sales
Expedition naming rights and merchandising
Sales of items flown
Sales of returned samples and expeditions artifacts
Entertainment products that market each expedition

The capability exists today for human return to the moon for many purposes, and at costs more than an order of magnitude lower than those estimated for NASA’s now cancelled project Constellation. Although new developments are required to enhance current/ in-development launcher performance and Dragon performance and to create a lunar lander, the scale, complexity, risks, and costs of such developments are far lower than starting from scratch to develop all new launch vehicles, a dedicated crew capsule, and landers with extensive capabilities not needed for simple early-Apollo-class sortie missions.

Interim lunar flyby and orbital missions offer the possibility of beginning lunar operations before completing development of the lander and surface suits, thereby easing the funding required before revenue return can begin.

They can perform the lunar flyby (Apollo 8) with just the Falcon 9 and a Atlas 552.

Golden Spike moon mission company will be making robotic lunar rovers and shows other plans and design

The Golden Spike Company—the world’s first enterprise planning to undertake human lunar expeditions for countries, corporations and individuals has a partnership with Honeybee Robotics—a premier provider of robotic systems for space—to design unmanned rovers capable of enhancing the next human missions to the Moon.

Working with technical staff at Golden Spike, Honeybee engineers will conduct trade studies for the design of configurable robotic rovers that can collect and store scientific samples from the Moon’s surface in support of Golden Spike’s expeditions. The results of the study will be complete by mid-

Honeybee has extensive expertise in planetary sampling and geotechnical analysis, having delivered systems for the last three of NASA’s Mars landers, including the Rock Abrasion Tool for the Mars Exploration Rovers; the “Phoenix Scoop” for the Phoenix Mars Lander; and the Dust Removal Tool and Sample Manipulation System for the Mars Science Laboratory. The company’s facilities are equipped with NASA-certified clean rooms and unique space environment simulation chambers.

Here are some other Golden Spike mission designs and equipment designs

Smart Real Wheel with battery, motor electronics for $590 to make most any bike into a pedal assist electric bike with 30 mile range and 20 mph top speed

Move through busy city streets in no time and spare your energy with the help of Smart Wheel, a pedal assist that encases an ultra-thin electric motor and intelligent electronics within a robust housing, neatly fitted onto the spokes of a bicycle rim. It fits practically any bicycle frame and helps you use your bike more efficiently and comfortably, when and where you need it.

Smart Wheel is a pedal assist which means it helps you ride your bike effortlessly. The motor turns on when you start pedaling and begins accelerating to your desired speed. It stops when you stop. It saves you time by getting you to your destination faster and gets you there without losing your breath or breaking a sweat. There’s no need to worry about what to wear to that business meeting or 8 o’clock date.

Smart Wheel takes care of itself. You can remotely lock the motor and track it in case it gets stolen. While riding, Smart Wheel keeps you safe because it spares your energy and allows you to keep your focus on the traffic.

Smart Wheel is designed to fit practically any bicycle frame. It comes in different sizes and colors. You’ll be able to specify the size and the color that suits your bike after the campaign.

Smart Wheel is designed in a way that makes installation as easy as possible. The motor and all the other components are packed inside a robust case. There are no wires or other gadgets to install. You simply remove your rear wheel, replace it with the Smart Wheel and you’re all set!

An App on your smartphone sets the top speed.

There is a holder for your phone so your smartphone will always be charged.

You can buy any regular folding bike and mate it to the Flykly smartwheel for a folding electric bike.

Smart Wheel’s genius design packs a lot of power and keeps its weight as light as possible. It goes up to 20 mph (25 km/h) for a 30 miles (50 km) range and it weights only 9 lbs (4 kg)

They have raised over $700,000 on Kickstarter. They blew past their first $100,000 target and various stretch goals.

SpaceX launches Thai satellite into orbit and is the second successful commercial launch in about 35 days

Spacex is on run of successful commercial launches. They are proving success for launches and making real their lower prices. Their lower prices will reshape the commercial launch market.

NBC News and others report that Spacex had a successful launch today.

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Monday to put a commercial communications spacecraft into orbit for Thai satellite operator Thaicom.

The 224-foot (68-meter) tall rocket burst off its seaside launch pad at 5:06 p.m. EST (2206 GMT), soaring through overcast skies as it headed toward the satellite's drop-off point more than 55,000 miles above Earth or about one-quarter of the way to the moon.

From that position, the 6,649-pound (3,016 kg) Thaicom 6 satellite is designed to lower itself to about 22,300 miles above Earth and shift the angle of its orbit so that it can be permanently stationed to beam high-definition and digital television services to customers in Thailand and surrounding areas.

The satellite, built by Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., also is equipped to provide other communications services for customers in Southeast Asia and Africa, including Madagascar, Thaicom's website shows.

Including launch services and insurance, the Thaicom 6 satellite cost about $160 million, according to Thaicom. So far, about two-thirds of the satellite's capacity has been sold, according to Thaicom.

Rejection free heart, lungs and kidneys from your own skin cells and a side order of bacon

Growing not just human organs but organs from your own skin cells inside pigs in Japan for the ultimate solution to organ replacement.

Prof Nagashima creates "a-pancreatic" embryos.

Inside the white pig embryo, the gene that carries the instructions for developing the animal's pancreas has been "switched off".

The Japanese team then introduce stem cells from a black pig into the embryo. What they have discovered is that as the pig develops, it will be normal except for its pancreas, which will be genetically a black pig's.

But this is just the first step.

In a lab at Tokyo University Professor Hiro Nakauchi is taking the next one, and this is even more astonishing.

Prof Nakauchi takes skin cells from an adult brown rat. He then uses gene manipulation to change these adult skin cells into what are called "iPS" cells. The amazing thing about induced pluripotent stem cells is that they have many of the same characteristics as embryonic stem cells. In other words, they can develop into any part of the animal's body.

IPS cells were first created in 2006 by Japanese medical researcher Dr Shinya Yamanaka. In 2012, he won the Nobel Prize for his discovery.

In his lab, Prof Nakauchi has succeeded in using these iPS cells to grow a brown rat pancreas inside a white mouse.

So why is all of this so important?

The ultimate objective of this research is to get human organs to grow inside pigs. By itself, that would be a massive breakthrough for science. But what Prof Nakauchi is trying to achieve goes further. He is hoping to develop a technique to take skin cells from a human adult and change them in to iPS cells. Those iPS cells can then be injected into a pig embryo.

Nvidia Unveils 192-Core Mobile Superchip to enable everything a high end desktop PC to a smartphone or tablet

Nvidia introduced its next-generation mobile processor, Tegra K1, at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The 192-core super chip, built on Kepler architecture, brings “the heart of GeForce and the soul of Tesla to mobile computing,” said Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang at the company's press event on Sunday.

The Tegra K1 comes in two versions: a 32-bit, quad core 4-Plus-1 ARM Cortex A15 CPU, slated to go into production in the first half of 2014, and a 64-bit version built on dual Denver CPUs to be available in the latter half of 2014. The 64-bit Tegra is designed for “high performance single threaded and very high performance multithreaded processes,” Huang said.

64 bits, 2.5 GHz, high end graphics

Carnival of Space 335

1. Universe Today - This was very likely the last trip around the Sun for the Earth-crossing asteroid 2014 AA, according to calculations by several teams of astronomers and published online earlier today on the IAU’s Minor Planet Center. Discovered just yesterday by the Catalina Sky Survey, the estimated 3-meter-wide Apollo asteroid was supposed to clear Earth today by a razor-thin margin of about 611 km (380 miles)… but it’s now looking like it didn’t quite make it.

This is only the second time an asteroid has been spotted before it hit the earth.

2. We enjoy the movie GRAVITY and its alternate universe where the Space Shuttle is still flying. Exploring the details of GRAVITY's universe explains many of the puzzles of the movie.

The movie GRAVITY shows a future where both private entities and other nations are in Space. It shows the capabilities of the Space Shuttle for repairing and moving the Hubble Space Telescope. The movie shows cooperation among nations in exploring Space. Finally it gives us young women a role model in Shuttle Astronaut Ryan Stone. Leaving the movie, we wish to live in her Universe.

January 05, 2014

Magnitudes and Scaling for Measuring and Comparing Civilization transformation

There are not clear measures of Civilization transformation.

I believe that there can be measures and units devised to measure civilization transformation.

I think getting up to ten points for each aspect
scale of impact
speed of impact.

First the breadth of the transformation is needed.

This would look at the either the number of people and/or the percentage of the world population at the time that are effected.
However this needs to be looking at the magnitude (power of ten).

The scale would use the percentages for historical impacts like the switch from horses to bikes and bikes to cars.
It would also use future population projections for the expected impact of something that starts in ten years and is measured at after 20 more years.

Points      People      Percent of Total

10             7.2 billion    100%
9              720 million    10%
8              72 million     1%
7              7.2 million    0.1%
6              720,000        0.01%
5              72,000         0.001%
4              7,200          0.0001%
3              720            0.00001%
2              72             0.000001%
1              7              0.0000001%

Do the best we can with high probability technological improvement but the tech moonshots should be targeting civilization transformation

The problem that I have with the Tokamak fusion project is that it is classified and justified as a technological moonshot but would NOT be transformative or even better than incremental improvement of nuclear fission or even possibly scaled up solar technology.

The Tokamak is targeting a 35000 ton power generator that would not be radically cheaper and may not be cheaper than various existing nuclear fission or low risk nuclear fission progress. There is fast neutron breeder reactors that combined with offsite pyroprocessing that can close the uranium fuel cycle. China's long range (multi-decade) nuclear plans have that program starting to phase in and scale in the 2030-2040. The program also costs billions of dollars. Nuclear fusion is a great target, but I do not like that the result is targeting 2050-2080 and is vastly underwhelming IF it works as they are planning.

The integrated molten salt reactor from Terrestrial Energy is a reactor that could be completed in 8 years. Early systems could be built that do not have turbines to generate steam for Canada's oilsands for economically valuable oil recovery. This would fund creating the first few hundred molten salt reactors. Molten salt reactors were already made in the 1960s that produced megawatts of power. The Terrestrial Energy reactor would 50 times smaller for the same power as nuclear reactors that now are put into submarines. It also has the potential to lower the cost of energy by 5 to ten times.

Granted a Tokamak is far better than coal plants and natural gas plants which are currently dominating. There are incremental advances in turbines and fossil fuel power plants and other lower risk advancements in turbines which would boost the current thermal power plants (fossil fuel and nuclear).

Supercritical CO2 could make thermal power more efficient for fossil fuel, concentrated solar and nuclear.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 190

1. Atomic Insights - Why is the Green Schools Alliance censoring discussion about nuclear energy

The leaders of an organization called theGreen Schools Alliance (GSA) have decided to reject the suggestions of parents who wanted to include a showing and discussion of Pandora’s Promise in the program of a planned conference on Green Business. According to my sources those leaders told the conference organizers that GSA cannot be affiliated with a film that promotes nuclear energy because it is committed to not taking positions on such controversial subjects.

People who have decided to apply the silent treatment to a technological tool have taken a position to oppose the use of that tool. Without information, no one would be able to make an intelligent decision based on facts and analysis.

2. The Atomic Show #211 – Happy Nuke Year 2014

The Atomic Show had a lively discussion about the change in the conversation about nuclear energy stimulated by the release of Pandora’s Promise, the impact of the court decision telling the NRC to restart its review of the Yucca Mountain license application, the uncertainty regarding the effect of a court’s decision about the continued collection of waste fees by the DOE, and the change in attitude within the nuclear industry about the importance of continuous communications stimulated by the permanent shut down of four formerly operating nuclear plants and the decision to stop refueling one more nuclear plant in 2014.

Zubrin advocates legalizing Methanol as fuel for cars to get 40% more miles per dollar of fuel and burns cleaner than gasoline

Robert Zubrin advocates the Open Fuel Standards bill (HR2493)

It would be more economical for consumers (40% more miles per dollar)
It would have low cost conversion for cars for fast deployment (flex fuel cars)
It burns cleaner with fewer particulates and less CO2.
It would more fully use resources that are being produced from the shale gas boom in the US for more energy independence for the US

Human to Mars Advocate Robert Zubrin has a company to convert natural gas that would be flared into CO2 and hydrogen

In 1996, Zubrin founded and is president of Pioneer Energy, a Research and Development firm Colorado. The company's focus is to develop mobile Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) systems that can enable CO2-based EOR for both small and large oil producers in the United States. The company has also developed a number of new processes for manufacturing synthetic fuels.

The US is flaring a lot of natural gas from the oil and gas fracking in North Dakota and other states. To capture the natural gas would involve creating pipelines to the wells. However, there are thousands of small horizontal wells being added every year. Zubrin system is mobile vehicles which have all of the conversion equipment that converts the natural gas to CO2 and hydrogen. The CO2 can be used to enhance the oil recovery and hydrogen can power equipment.

They are going to a system that can produce 500,000 cubic feet of CO2 per day and 1.2 megawatts of power. They can reduce by 90% the amount of CO2 and gas that is released into the air during flaring.

One of the things for Mars that Zubrin is known for is devising insitu systems for producing fuel out of the atmosphere of Mars. Here Zubrin has determined gear to produce desirable things from what would be wasted and polluting flared natural gas.

These trailer mounted CO2 will be able to boost oil recovery from about 30% of in place oil to 50-60% in many cases.

3M’s new silver nanowire films could lead to large, interactive, and ultimately flexible displays

3M will begin selling flexible transparent conductive films made of silver nanowires for use in touch screens. These nanomaterials could enable wider adoption of large touch screens for interactive signs, displays, and personal computers. And the flexible films may come to be used in future foldable, curvy personal electronics, too.

The films using silver nanowires produced by Cambrios, a Sunnyvale, California, startup founded in 2004 by two materials scientists: Evelyn Hu, now at Harvard University, and MIT’s Angela Belcher. The company’s silver nanowires are a few nanometers in diameter and a few micrometers long, and come suspended in inks. The inks can be spread out onto a surface to make sparse films. The silver wires are designed to spread in random networks, like nano pick-up sticks, so that they won’t cause a pattern that’s distracting to the eye—an irritating problem that plagued earlier metal-mesh touch screens

lexible feel: Conductive transparent films using nano materials developed by Cambrios Technologies make it possible to make flexible, large touch screen displays.

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