March 08, 2014

NASA proposes Europa mission by 2025

On Tuesday, NASA released an overview of its $17 billion budget request for fiscal year 2015, which includes funds "for the formulation for a mission to Jupiter's moon, Europa

NASA has been developing concepts for exploring Europa that include the launch of "clipper" that would flyby and gather data from above the moon, as well as a possible lander. The cost of the clipper mission was estimated (PDF) in 2012 at just under $2 billion, while the cost of a landing on Europa was pegged at $2.8 billion.

Europa Clipper NASA mission site is here

NASA officials suggest that the Europa mission space is wide open at this point, the best candidate to get off the ground in 2025 or so may be a concept called the Europa Clipper.

NASA researchers have been developing the Europa Clipper idea for years. The probe would orbit Jupiter but make dozens of flybys of Europa, using a variety of science instruments to study the moon's ice shell and subsurface ocean.

On its surface, Europa appears to be an iced-over rock orbiting the biggest planet in our neighborhood and often getting nuked by Jupiter's radiation belt. However, it's believed that a subsurface ocean exists beneath the ice, kept liquid by a phenomenon called tidal flexing. Just last month, Hubble spotted evidence of a plume of water vapor at the moon's south pole.

Europa's Oceans are ten times deeper than the Earth's oceans and there is more water on Europa.

Bad relations between Russia and the US and Europe are now guaranteed for many years and this will help Elon Musk

Regardless of the final outcome of the situation in the Ukraine with Russia. US and European relations with Russia will be bad for many years.

Europe will try to have less dependence upon Russian Natural Gas. Europe now gets about 30% from Russia.
Europe and American Banks and investors will try to have less exposure to Russian assets.

The politics are just part of it. Russia is now an unreliable and more risky situation for business.
The US has dependence on Russia for spaceflight.

At the very least, Spacex will get elevated to being an equal competitor for Air Force launches. It is likely that Russian made engines will be phased out for American launches. I believe that Spacex will get more breaks in certification and will get accelerated through manned certification and military launch certification.

Before Ukraine, the West could believe that engaging Russia as partner would be good for relations and good for business.

The U.S. Air Force is looking for new ways to get its spy and GPS satellites into space for less money through their EELV (Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle) program. Currently United Launch Alliance (ULA), the joint venture of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, launches these satellites. But the rocket establishment is facing some competition in the form of Elon Musk and SpaceX.

ULA's Atlas V and Delta IV rockets use Russian-made rocket engines.

Correction - ULA’s Delta IV does NOT use a Russian-made engine. It uses an Aerojet Rocketdyne RD-68.

Elon Musk made his case for Spacex to the US Senate Sub-committee

March 07, 2014

Multiferroic material can increase power efficiency for future computer processors by up to 1000 times

UCLA researchers were able to demonstrate that using multiferroic material to generate spin waves could reduce wasted heat and therefore increase power efficiency for computer processing by up to 1,000 times.

Multiferroic magnetic materials reduce the amount of power consumed by "logic devices," a type of circuit on a computer chip dedicated to performing functions such as calculations. A multiferroic can be switched on or off by applying alternating voltage — the difference in electrical potential. It then carries power through the material in a cascading wave through the spins of electrons, a process referred to as a spin wave bus.

A spin wave can be thought of as similar to an ocean wave, which keeps water molecules in essentially the same place while the energy is carried through the water, as opposed to an electric current, which can be envisioned as water flowing through a pipe, said principal investigator Kang L. Wang, UCLA's Raytheon Professor of Electrical Engineering and director of the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN).

"Spin waves open an opportunity to realize fundamentally new ways of computing while solving some of the key challenges faced by scaling of conventional semiconductor technology, potentially creating a new paradigm of spin-based electronics," Wang said.

Spin wave devices - A picture of spin wave devices, showing magneto-electric cells used for voltage-controlled spin wave generation in the spin wave bus material (yellow stripe). The yellow stripe is about four micrometers in diameter.

Applied Physics Letters - Electric-field-induced spin wave generation using multiferroic magnetoelectric cells

Venter and Diamandis Launched an Anti-Aging Company to develop Genomics and Stem Cell Therapies

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI), is a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company focused on extending the healthy, high performance human life span, was announced Mar 4, 2014 by co-founders J. Craig Venter, Ph.D., Robert Hariri, M.D., Ph.D., and Peter H. Diamandis, M.D.

The company, headquartered in San Diego, California, is being capitalized with an initial $70 million in investor funding.

HLI’s funding is being used to build the largest human sequencing operation in the world to compile the most comprehensive and complete human genotype, microbiome, and phenotype database available to tackle the diseases associated with aging-related human biological decline. HLI is also leading the development of cell-based therapeutics to address age-related decline in endogenous stem cell function. Revenue streams will be derived from database licensing to pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic organizations, sequencing, and development of advanced diagnostics and therapeutics.

March 06, 2014

3D Printing of tissue with blood vessels are a key breakthrough that will lead to creating full size artificial organs

In what may be a critical breakthrough for creating artificial organs, Harvard researchers say they have created tissue interlaced with blood vessels.

Using a custom-built four-head 3-D printer and a “disappearing” ink, materials scientist Jennifer Lewis and her team created a patch of tissue containing skin cells and biological structural material interwoven with blood-vessel-like structures.

Advanced Materials - 3D Bioprinting of Vascularized, Heterogeneous Cell-Laden Tissue Constructs

Carnival of Space 343

The Carnival of Space 343 is up at the Urban Astronomer

The Meridiani Journal - Is this new evidence for ancient life on Mars?

Studies of a Martian meteorite, known as Yamato 000593 (Y000593), have revealed signs of past liquid water activity as well as possible evidence of actual biological processes.

From the press release: “The team reports that newly discovered different structures and compositional features within the larger Yamato meteorite suggest biological processes might have been at work on Mars hundreds of millions of years ago.”

Scanning electron microscope image from inside the Martian meteorite Yamato 000593 (Y000593), showing the tunnels and micro-tunnels. Credit: NASA

Operational Lunar Space Elevator planned by end of 2019

By the end of 2019, Liftport has the goal establish an operational Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure using:

* Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) Technology
* “Sputnik-like Simplicity”
* A Single Launch Solution

LiftPort Group will make the Moon economically accessible for exploration, settlement, and extraction of natural resources by designing, constructing and operating a Lunar Space Elevator Infrastructure (LSEI). The LSEI will transport cargo and people to and from the Earth-Moon Lagrange 1 (EML1), through a soft-landing, down to the surface of the Moon.

Located at the EML1, LiftPort Group will build and operate the PicoGravity Laboratory – a crewed research station with energy, fuel resupply and docking facilities for larger missions deep into the solar system. LiftPort opens up the Moon and the rest of the solar system to humanity.

LiftPort’s proposed research will develop practical, near-term solutions for construction and expansion of a Lunar Elevator. The study will include characterization of materials; analysis of required rocketry and robotics; and evaluation of landing sites and methods of anchoring to the Lunar surface. Additionally, Ribbon spooling, infrastructure deployment, and micrometeorite mitigation techniques will be explored.

Gene Therapy Progress is Summarized

Scientific American reports that gene therapy is starting to live up to its early promise. In the past six years the experimental procedure for placing healthy genes wherever they are needed in the body has restored sight in about 40 people with a hereditary form of blindness. Doctors have seen unprecedented results among another 120-plus patients with various cancers of the blood—several of whom remain free of malignancy three years after treatment. Researchers have also used gene therapy to enable a few men with hemophilia, a sometimes fatal bleeding disorder, to go longer without dangerous incidents or the need for high doses of clotting drugs.

Alzheimer’s Kills Six times more than previsously believed which is as Many People as Cancer, Heart Disease

A new estimate shows that Alzheimer's is responsible for more than six times as many deaths each year as officials thought.

Typically, coroners list only the most immediate condition as a person's cause of death on an official death certificate. But a new study suggests that this practice can lead to a drastic under-reporting of the number of people who die each year due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers estimate that Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, is responsible for some 500,000 deaths a year in the USA (about 20% of all deaths), more than six times the official estimate of 83,000 deaths in 2010.

Applying the current death estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the report Alzheimer’s was responsible for 503,400 deaths 2010.

Journal of Neurology - Contribution of Alzheimer disease to mortality in the United States

March 05, 2014

Genetically modified superrice is resistant to drought, salty soils and lack of fertiliser

A single strain of genetically modified rice has been developed to handle drought, salty soils and lack of fertiliser. The aim is to "climate-proof" rice farms in Asia and Africa so that they can grow the same variety each year, regardless of the conditions. This rice is the first to counter three at once.

According to the International Rice Research Institute, drought affects 23 million hectares of rice in south and South-East Asia and costs $13 billion a year globally. In some states in India, it can reduce rice yields by 40 per cent. Salt is similarly problematic. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, about 800 million hectares of land are affected by salt, costing agriculture an estimated $1 billion per year.

Under a range of drought conditions, the yield of the modified rice was 12 to 17 per cent greater than that of the parent rice. With low levels of fertiliser, its yield was 13 to 18 per cent greater. When exposed to both of these stresses at once, the yield of the modified rice was 15 per cent more than that of the unmodified rice. Trials using a range of salty conditions showed the altered rice had a yield that was as much as 42 per cent more than the parent rice.

Spacex Falcon Heavy launch delayed to 2015

SpaceX founder, CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk says the company's production schedule is too tight to support a test flight of the Falcon Heavy rocket from Vandenberg AFB, Calif., in 2014.

With plans to compete with ULA for launches of heavier payloads in the coming years, SpaceX is also preparing to test and qualify the new Falcon Heavy launch vehicle in 2015.

“We need to find three additional cores that we could produce, send them through testing and then fly without disrupting our launch manifest,” Musk said in a Feb. 20 interview. “I'm hopeful we'll have Falcon Heavy cores produced approximately around the end of the year. But just to get through test and qualification, I think it's probably going to be sometime early next year when we launch.”

China making the longest undersea tunnel starting in 2015

China is planning another engineering marvel: the world’s longest tunnel – built under the sea.

The 123-kilometre tunnel will be more than twice the length of the Channel Tunnel (50 kilometers) that connects the U.K. and France, China’s latest mega project is not short of ambition. It will run between the northern city of Dalian and Yantai, on the east coast. There will be three bores. One for high speed rail, one for cars and another for maintenance.

“Work could begin as early as 2015 or 2016,” said Wang Mengshu, an expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Google Fiber could accelerate to 10 gigabit Internet speeds within 3 years

Google Fiber offers data transfer speeds of 1 gigabit per second currently. But the company is already working on speeds of 10 gigabits per second, Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette said during the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet conference.

Pichette called this the next generation of the Internet and said it was part of Google's broader, long-term obsession with speed.

Faster speeds will increase the use of software as a service because users will be able to trust that critical applications that are data intensive will run smoothly over the Internet, he explained.

"That's where the world is going. It's going to happen," Pichette said. It may happen over a decade, but "why wouldn't we make it available in three years? That's what we're working on. There's no need to wait," he added.

Google is not the only one working on this. Last year, researchers in the U.K. announced that they achieved data transmission speeds of 10 gigabits per second using "li-fi" a wireless Internet connectivity technology that uses light.

Dwave Superconducting Quantum Computer passes more rigorous tests that confirm Quantumness of the System

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering is home to the USC-Lockheed Martin Quantum Computing Center (QCC), a super-cooled, magnetically shielded facility specially built to house the first commercially available quantum computing processors – devices so advanced that there are only two in use outside the Canadian lab where they were built: The first one went to USC and Lockheed Martin, and the second to NASA and Google.

Since USC's facility opened in October 2011, a key task for researchers has been to determine whether D-Wave processors operate as hoped – using the special laws of quantum mechanics to offer potentially higher-speed processing, instead of operating in a classical, traditional way.

An international collaboration of scientists has now published several papers rejecting classical models of the first-generation D-Wave One processor housed at USC, including one on an elaborate test of all 108 of the chip's functional quantum bits ("qubits"). The test demonstrates that the D-Wave One behaved in a way that agrees with a model called "quantum Monte Carlo," yet disagreed with two candidate classical models that could have described the processor in the absence of quantum effects.

Nature Physics - Evidence for quantum annealing with more than one hundred qubits

In a now ignored War, Assad appears to have won in Syria

President Bahir Assad’s army has taken Yabroud, the last major town held by Sunni Muslim rebels, located near the Lebanese border. On Tuesday, with support from Hezbollah fighters and local paramilitary groups, Assad’s forces bombarded the town until the rebels retreated.

Taking Yabroud is an important victory for Assad, who has been fighting for months to control the surrounding region.. He has now effectively cut off rebel supply lines from Lebanon.

Negotiations to end the war are close to collapsing.

Taken together, Assad’s victory, his continued slaughter of those who oppose him, his repeated human rights violations, his failure to live up to the terms of the deal, and his undermining of the peace talks amount to a stunning defeat of American diplomacy. Nearly 50,000 people have died since the United States confirmed the use of chemical weapons last summer, bringing the total number of casualties to more than 140,000.

Taken together, this also represents a clear victory for Bashar al Assad. He has accomplished every goal he had when the United States and its partners ignored the so-called “red line” and allowed the war to continue without intervention.

He has defeated the rebels, splitting them into warring factions. He still has the majority of his chemical weapons. He is still in power, and with negotiations stalled, it’s unlikely he’ll be removed.

In short, he’s won.

The boys' dream of full contact live action video game fighting has been achieved but the other dream of dating supermodels remains out of reach

A newly developed body armor, complete with built-in sensors that can measure the damage a hit would cause to the unprotected body, is set to revolutionise the sport of mixed martial arts.

The high-tech armor, has been designed by Unified Weapons Master, not only to protect but also to register the real force behind each strike.

A team of engineers from Chiron Global spent four years developing the Iron Man-like armor, which is designed to be flexible enough to fight in and uses built-in sensors to calculate and display the damage a weapon hit would have done to an unprotected body.

NBF - This seems to fulfill the dream of every 4 to 99 year old guy to be able to play and fight with weapons with no fear of injury and with a system for properly keeping score.

The Unified Weapons Master website is here

Italian exoskeleton lets user lift 50 kilograms in each hand

Engineers in Italy have developed a wearable robot which they claim is the most sophisticated built in the world to date.

The "body extender" has been built by the Perceptual Robotics Laboratory (Percro) at Pisa's Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna.

The machine can enable users to lift up to 50kg in each extended hand, say its makers.

It could be developed to work in factories or to clear debris and rescue survivors in earthquake zones, they say.

The exoskeleton is one of many being developed around the world for manufacturing, therapeutic and military purposes.

March 04, 2014

Space Shuttle Columbia Revisited with theoretical rescue by Space Shuttle Atlantis

Ars Technica reviews "STS-107 In-Flight Options Assessment" in Appendix D.13 of the Columbia accident report which was NASA's own detailed assessment of what a rescue mission would have looked like.

The scenarios were to assume that a decision to repair or rescue the Columbia crew would be made quickly, with no regard to risk.

Columbia's LiOH canister supply to cover a total of 30 days of mission time without breaking that CO2 threshold. However, doing so would require the crew to spend 12 hours of each day doing as little as possible—sleeping, resting, and doing everything they could to keep their metabolic rates low.

The amount of liquid oxygen on board could be stretched past the CO2 scrubbers' 30-day mark by drastically cutting down Columbia's power draw.

The remaining three consumable categories consisted of food, water, and propellant. Assuming that the crew would be moving minimally, food and water could stretch well beyond the 30-day limit imposed by the LiOH canisters. To preserve propellant, the orbiter would be placed into an attitude needing minimal fuel to maintain.

Putin appears to be getting ready to backoff Crimea because it is playing badly within Russia

It appears that Putin is backing off Crimea and decided it was a mistake within Russia.

Within Ukraine support for joining NATO went from 40% to 80%.

Time reports that the Crimea invasion was unpopular within Russia.

Kremlin’s own pollster released a survey on Monday that showed 73% of Russians reject the Ukraine invasion. In phrasing its question posed in early February to 1,600 respondents across the country, the state-funded sociologists at WCIOM were clearly trying to get as much support for the intervention as possible: “Should Russia react to the overthrow of the legally elected authorities in Ukraine?” they asked. Only 15% said yes — hardly a national consensus.

No less worrying for Putin would be the economic sanctions the West is preparing in answer to Russia’s intervention in Ukraine. Depending on their intensity, those could cut off the ability of Russian companies and businessmen in getting Western loans and trading with most of the world’s largest economies. Putin’s allies could also find it a lot more difficult to send their children to study in the West or to keep their assets in Western banks, as they now almost universally do. All of that raises the risk for Putin of a split in his inner circle and, potentially, even of a palace coup. There is hardly anything more important to Russia’s political elite than the security of their foreign assets, certainly not their loyalty to a leader who seems willing to put all of that at risk.

Cheap sanitary pads are better than Apple iPads for poor women in India by improving lives, improving health and providing thousands of jobs

A school dropout from a poor family in southern India has revolutionised menstrual health for rural women in developing countries by inventing a simple machine they can use to make cheap sanitary pads.

Arunachalam Muruganantham's invention came at great personal cost - he nearly lost his family, his money and his place in society.

In 1998, Muruganantham went into town to buy his wife a sanitary pad. It was handed to him hurriedly, as if it were contraband. He weighed it in his hand and wondered why 10g (less than 0.5oz) of cotton, which at the time cost 10 paise (£0.001), should sell for 4 rupees (£0.04) - 40 times the price. He decided he could make them cheaper himself.

He discovered that hardly any women in the surrounding villages used sanitary pads - fewer than one in 10. His findings were echoed by a 2011 survey by AC Nielsen, commissioned by the Indian government, which found that only 12% of women across India use sanitary pads.

Muruganantham says that in rural areas, the take-up is far less than that. He was shocked to learn that women don't just use old rags, but other unhygienic substances such as sand, sawdust, leaves and even ash.

He began a crusade to develop low cost and effective sanitary pads.

Over the years villagers became convinced he was possessed by evil spirits, and were about to chain him upside down to a tree to be "healed" by the local soothsayer. He only narrowly avoided this treatment by agreeing to leave the village. It was a terrible price to pay. His wife left him. His widowed mother left. He was ostracised by his village.

Future super-batteries, superconducting engines and exoskeletons as powerful as a semi-trailer truck engine to get as close as possible to a future Iron Man

What is the future potential of exoskeletons ? What should be achievable in reality compared to the fictional Iron Man ?

Here is what I think are the most realistic ways to solve the motor power and energy storage issues for far more powerful exoskeletons. Something that could power fairly high speed flight and be able to lift 8-20 tons of weight.
High power density levels are one of the main hurdles to very powerful exoskeletons.

Various studies and design of high temperature superconducting motors suggest that power densities beyond turbine engines are possible. These superconducting engines would be even lighter if room temperature superconductors are achieved. The cryo-cooling would not be needed.

Detailed design studies for HTS propulsion motors supported by experimental validation have convinced us that superconducting rotating machines today can achieve power densities comparable with that of turbine engines (3-8 kW/kg).

This remarkable achievement, however, is still not enough for deployment into commercial aircraft. Electrically-propelled airliner aircraft would become feasible when power densities approach 25 kW/kg for motors and 50 kW/kg for generators, which appears to be achievable with fully superconducting machines (both inductor and armature).

A kilowatt of power is equal to about 1.3 horsepower. The Tesla Model S electric car has 85 kilowatt hours of batteries.

A P51 Mustang fighter plane engine had 1.3 megawatts of power (1790 horsepower) and had a range of 1140 miles (2200 miles use two 150 gallon drop tanks.

An 18 wheel (semitrailer) truck typically has a 400 kilowatt engine (520 horsepower).

A superconducting electric engine with 50 kW/kg would need 10 kg to equal the power of a semitrailer truck and 27.5 kg to match the engine of a P-51 Mustang. A Tesla Model S has a 416 horsepower engine which would need about 8 kg of future superconducting engine.

Failed attempts to Make China the US Military Global Enemy number one and Mutually Assured Financial Destruction

A senior Pentagon official said on Tuesday that, due to cuts to the defense budget, the Pentagon’s plans to pivot to Asia “can’t happen.”

The pivot, part of a larger plan to focus deployments and military ties to the Asia-Pacific region to combat the rising threat of China, has been a central tenet of Pentagon strategy as the agency looks to wind down the war in Afghanistan.

But Katrina McFarland, assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, said the agency is now reconsidering the strategy in light of the budget pressures it faces.

“Right now, the pivot is being looked at again, because candidly it can’t happen,” she told Aviation Week’s Defense Technologies and Requirements conference in Arlington, Va.

After the decades of Cold War, the US in the late 1990s was starting to size up China as the global main strategic focus.

The US military industrial complex needs a "Big Bad" to justify their huge budgets. The "Pivot to Asia" is defense jargon for declaring a new "Big Bad". The military–industrial complex, or military–industrial–congressional complex, comprises the policy and monetary relationships which exist between legislators, national armed forces, and the military industrial base that supports them. A big military will want to use politics, money and influence to keep a lot of money flowing to big military.

A Big Bad is a term applied to describe major villains in the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. The Big Bad is typically not only dangerous but also helps articulate the major themes of the season.

China was about to crowned the Big Bad after the Hainan Island Incident

On April 1, 2001, the Hainan Island incident occurred when a mid-air collision between a United States Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals intelligence aircraft and a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States of America and the People's Republic of China.

China wants to export nuclear power plants to Brazil, UK, South Africa and other countries

South China Morning Post reports that Beijing-based State Nuclear plans to start construction of the first CAP1400 demonstration reactor in Shidaowan, Shandong province, this year and commission it in late 2018, according to Xinhua.

The schedule is about a year behind the original target as Beijing suspended new projects for about 18 months to review the safety of all nuclear power projects after Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011.

The two other state-owned nuclear power plant developers, China National Nuclear and China General Nuclear Power, have also been looking for opportunities to expand abroad, even though they have the world's biggest nuclear power expansion programme to complete.

After raising industry safety standards, Beijing set a target for the country's installed nuclear generating capacity of 58GW by 2020, up from 12.57GW now, although insiders had believed the industry was capable of generating 70 to 80GW.

Facebook buys solar powered drone maker Titan Aerospace and will start building 11,000 drones to deliver internet into Africa

Techcrunch reports Facebook is buying Titan Aerospace, makers of near-orbital, solar-powered drones which can fly for five years without needing to land. According to a source with access to information about the deal, the price for this acquisition is $60 million.

Facebook is interested in using these high-flying drones to blanket parts of the world without Internet access, beginning with Africa. The company would start by building 11,000 of these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), specifically the “Solara 60″ model.

the Solera 60 deliver over 250 lbs / 100kg to "atmospheric orbit". They will fly for 5 years at 65000 feet altitude

3-D printer creates transformative device for heart treatment that can keep a heart beating even during a heart attack

Using an inexpensive 3-D printer, biomedical engineers have developed a custom-fitted, implantable device with embedded sensors that could transform treatment and prediction of cardiac disorders.

Igor Efimov, PhD, at the School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis and an international team of biomedical engineers and materials scientists have created a 3-D elastic membrane made of a soft, flexible, silicon material that is precisely shaped to match the heart’s epicardium, or the outer layer of the wall of the heart. Current technology is two-dimensional and cannot cover the full surface of the epicardium or maintain reliable contact for continual use without sutures or adhesives.

The team can then print tiny sensors onto the membrane that can precisely measure temperature, mechanical strain and pH, among other markers, or deliver a pulse of electricity in cases of arrhythmia. Those sensors could assist physicians with determining the health of the heart, deliver treatment or predict an impending heart attack before a patient exhibits any physical signs.

It is about 10-15 years away from being made available to humans, but the revolutionary device might be a long-term solution to normally catastrophic events like heart attacks. It may help prevent heart attacks in humans.

The figure above is a graphical depiction of the steps researchers took to design and create the 3-D elastic membrane that is shaped precisely to match the epicardium of the heart. The top row, from left to right, shows the rabbit heart, the 3-D printed model, the membrane, then the membrane integrated with the heart. The large center photo shows the sensors on the membrane on the heart. The bottom row, from left to right, shows the different sensors that can be used in the membrane.

Nature Communications - 3D multifunctional integumentary membranes for spatiotemporal cardiac measurements and stimulation across the entire epicardium

March 03, 2014

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics Tungsten Electrodes will be ready in mid-May and the rest of the plan to achieve breakthrough commercial fusion to lower electricity costs by ten times

The tungsten electrodes needed for LPP’s next set of experiments are rolling forward. The electrodes are needed to eliminate impurities, and cleaner plasma is expected to raise density and yield in the tiny plasmoids where fusion reactions take place. They are on track to be installed by mid-May. The tungsten blank for the cathode (the larger outer electrode) has been completed by Tungsten Heavy Powder and is being shipped to New Jersey. There another company, New Jersey Precision Technology, will machine the block into the exact shape required, a complex process expected to take about 10 weeks.

The tungsten anode was redesigned into a plate-and-cylinder combination shape. Boththe anode and the cathode, will connect to the rest of the circuit outside the vacuum chamber. Not only will this design eliminate any possibility of plasma impurities from arcing, but by spreading the current at the join out into a larger diameter, it will eliminate any arcing at all, even at the highest currents. With the re-design, the anode, too, is now being manufactured in time for May installation.

The tungsten blank, with outer diameter of 12” and total weight approaching 200 lbs, is prepped for shipping from San Diego.

Russian Focus Fusion device gets to 30 joules from 135 kilojoules input which was 6 times better than the national ignition facility energy return ratio

Many news outlets widely—and inaccurately—reported new results from the huge National Ignition Facility (NIF) as achieving the long sought-after goal of breakeven for fusion. What NIF in fact reported was a fusion yield of 17 kJ, more than the energy actually absorbed by the fuel pellet. The total input energy to the machine was far larger—some 500 MJ, so that 1 J of fusion was produced for each 30,000 J of input. This was indeed a big step upwards for NIF researchers but far from breakeven.

Meanwhile, science news reporters overlooked a major accomplishment in fusion a year ago by Russian researchers using a plasma focus device. These researchers performed their work at the Russian Federal Nuclear Center, All Russian Scientific Research Institute of Experimental Physics, in Sarov. They reported fusion yields of 30 J (1.3 x 10^13 neutrons) with the same deuterium-tritium fuel used by NIF. Since the total energy fed into the capacitors was 135 kJ, the Sarov team achieved a fusion yield of 1 J per 4,500 J of input, more than six times better than the NIF results. (The record for any DT fusion experiment is the JET tokamak in the UK, which in 1997 produced 1 J of energy per 450 J of input.)

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 198

1. ANS Nuclear Cafe: Fusion Milestone at National Ignition Facility.

Dr. Mike Dunne, program manager for Laser Fusion Energy at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, with comments on a historic laser fusion milestone achieved at the National Ignition Facility in California

Europe and China seem unlikely to go along with Sanctions and any financial war would likely claim European Banks as collateral damage

Ian Bremmer is the president and founder of Eurasia Group, a global political risk research and consulting firm and he gives his views on the situation with Russia and the Ukraine.

1) The West's direct response. Ian Bremmer sees basically no response just like when Russia invaded Georgia.

2) International complications from Russia. Russia can complicate things with Iran and Syria. If Russia /Putin is pushed hard enough he can create a lot of mischief

3) Geopolitical shift. Russia will see its key opportunity as closing ranks more tightly with China.

The International Business Times is indicating that China is backing Russia in some statements on the Crimea.


If the West could organize crippling sanctions on Russia then Putin would have a lot of trouble. If the US could get crippling sanctions on Russia they probably could force a change. Sanctions help bring down the Soviet Union and Russia is weaker than the Soviet Union.

But it seems that weakness goes both ways. It seems that effective sanctions will not happen.

The UK Telegraph believes that European dependence on Russian natural gas will prevent effective sanctions.

The UK appears prepared to rule out trade sanctions.

After getting rid of Ballmer, Bill Gates is back to being the Richest man in the World

Forbes reports that Bill Gates is back to being the richest man in the world.

Bill Gates was the richest from 1995-2007

The Wall Street Journal had reported that there was tension surrounding the 2000 transition of authority from Bill Gates to Ballmer. Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues, according to an individual present at the time. After the exchange, Ballmer seemed "remorseful", the person said. Once Gates leaves, "I'm not going to need him for anything. That's the principle," Ballmer said. "Use him, yes, need him, no.

Steve Ballmer was CEO of Microsoft from Jan 2000- Feb 2014. Ballmer announced his retirement in 2013, after losing billions of dollars in acquisitions and on the Surface tablet.

Russia's Crimea Takeover and Lessons for Future Successful Military Aggression

Russian soldiers have apparently taken Crimea without firing a shot.

Although the situation is still not resolved and there could be shooting and other developments could happen. Let us assume the situation remains in terms of control remains as is.

What appears to be the lesson for other world powers looking for successful military aggression :

1. Have a critical mass of local support. Crimea has a majority (about 60%) of ethnic Russians who mostly support a Russian takeover

2. Have dominant military power over those who previously had the area. Russia's military is 10 to 100 times more than what the Ukraine has.

3. Have nuclear weapons so that the West (mainly the USA) will not use conventional military force

The SIRT1 Activator SRT1720 Extends Lifespan and Improves Health of Mice Fed a Standard Diet

Highlights of new life extension calorie restriction mimicking supplement research The study in Cell Reports, found that SR1720 extended the life span of mice on a standard diet by about 9 percent. They also confirmed their earlier work indicating that the compound extends the life span of mice fed a high-fat diet.

* SRT1720 supplementation extends mean lifespan of mice fed a standard diet
* SRT1720 improves healthspan of mice fed a standard diet
* SRT1720 reduces the age-associated increase in risk factors for metabolic disease
* SRT1720 supplementation confers antiinflammatory properties in target tissues


The prevention or delay of the onset of age-related diseases prolongs survival and improves quality of life while reducing the burden on the health care system. Activation of sirtuin 1 (SIRT1), an NAD+-dependent deacetylase, improves metabolism and confers protection against physiological and cognitive disturbances in old age. SRT1720 is a specific SIRT1 activator that has health and lifespan benefits in adult mice fed a high-fat diet. We found extension in lifespan, delayed onset of age-related metabolic diseases, and improved general health in mice fed a standard diet after SRT1720 supplementation. Inhibition of proinflammatory gene expression in both liver and muscle of SRT1720-treated animals was noted. SRT1720 lowered the phosphorylation of NF-κB pathway regulators in vitro only when SIRT1 was functionally present. Combined with our previous work, the current study further supports the beneficial effects of SRT1720 on health across the lifespan in mice.

March 02, 2014

Ukraine mobilizes troops after Russia's 'declaration of war'

Ukraine's new leaders accused neighbor Russia of declaring war, as Kiev mobilized troops and called up military reservists in a rapidly escalating crisis that has raised fears of a conflict.

Amid signs of Russian military intervention in Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, Russian generals led their troops to three bases in the region Sunday, demanding Ukrainian forces surrender and hand over their weapons, Vladislav Seleznyov, spokesman for the Crimean Media Center of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, told CNN.

Speaking by phone, he said Russian troops had blocked access to the bases, but added, "There is no open confrontation between Russian and Ukrainian military forces in Crimea" and said Ukrainian troops continue to protect and serve Ukraine.

"This is a red alert. This is not a threat. This is actually a declaration of war to my country," Ukrainian interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said.

The newly appointed head of Ukraine's navy has sworn allegiance to the Crimea region, in the presence of its unrecognised pro-Russian leader.

Rear Admiral Denys Berezovsky was only made head of the navy on Saturday, as the government in Kiev reacted to the threat of Russian invasion.

Spiderfabs will have game changing future impact on solar sails and space based solar power

Previously NASA was looking at 20-30 years to get solar sails that are 250 meters by 250 meters or 400 meters by 400 meters.

Spiderfab will use robots to assemble structures in space.
Spiderfab on orbit assembly can reduce the mass of space structures by 30 times.

This will enable solar power arrays with over 120 watts per kilogram. This is needed for fast solar electric interplanetary missions.
Spiderfab can also enable solar sails that are over 1000 meters in diameter.

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1200 square meter solar sail preparing January 2015 launch

Sunjammer is a solar sail constructed by LGarde for NASA. The largest solar sail to be constructed as of 2013, Sunjammer was named after a 1964 Arthur C. Clarke story of the same name, in which several solar sails compete in a race across the Solar System. Sunjammer is slated to launch in January 2015 as the secondary payload of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, along with the Earth observation satellite DSCOVR.

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