March 22, 2014

The Status of the battle against childhood malnutrition including Wasting and Stunting

Stunting was defined as the proportion of children below two standard deviations from the WHO length- or height-for-age standards median. Linear mixed-effects modelling was used to estimate rates and numbers of affected children from 1990 to 2010, and projections to 2020.In 2010, it is estimated that 171 million children (167 million in developing countries) were stunted. Globally, childhood stunting decreased from 39.7 in 1990 to 26.7% in 2010. This trend is expected to reach 21.8 or 142 million, in 2020.

Good nutrition is the cornerstone for survival, health and development. Well-nourished children perform better in school, grow into healthy adults and in turn give their children a better start in life. Well-nourished women face fewer risks during pregnancy and childbirth, and their children set off on firmer developmental paths, both physically and mentally.

Globally, more than one third of child deaths are attributable to undernutrition

Undernourished children have lowered resistance to infection and are more likely to die from common childhood ailments like diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections. Frequent illness saps the nutritional status of those who survive, locking them into a vicious cycle of recurring sickness and faltering growth.

Poverty, low levels of education and poor access to health services are major contributors to childhood undernutrition, a complex issue that requires tackling on a wide number of fronts.

There is a 132 page UN report on Improving Child Nutrition : The achievable imperative for global progress

Zuckerberg, Musk Invest in Machine Learning Artificial-Intelligence Company Vicarious

Vicarious is developing machine learning software based on the computational principles of the human brain. Their first technology is a visual perception system that interprets the contents of photographs and videos in a manner similar to humans. Powering this technology is a new computational paradigm we call the Recursive Cortical Network.

Vicarious was founded by Mr. Phoenix and Dileep George, a Stanford Ph.D. graduate who studied hierarchical models of the brain. Their premise was to focus on the sensory aspect of the brain, particularly vision’s critical role in the early stages of human development. It has tried to further differentiate itself from its peers by designing a system with a high degree of interactivity between the basic visual receptors of the software, its eyes, and the higher-level, information processing parts. Such a feedback loop allows the machine, for example, to imagine the missing contours of a cat that is partially hidden behind a box.

Vicarious was able to decode Captchas with AI.

Elon Musk (Tesla, Spacex, Solar City), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Ashton Kutcher (actor, x-Mr Demi Moore, now Mr. Mila Kunis) are joining in a $40 million investment in Vicarious.

Laura Deming has been a venture capitalist since she was 18 and she is obsessed with curing aging

Laura Deming is an 18 year old venture capitalist Partner at Floreat Capital. At 18, Deming is already a venture capitalist, working closely with biotech legend Corey Goodman. She is obsessed with curing aging, she began working in labs at 12, entered MIT at 14. Frustrated that such work was not being commercialized, she obtained the backing of Facebook founding investor Peter Thiel through the 20under20 fellowship to start an anti-aging focused VC fund.

Laura Deming told attendees at TEDMED 2013 how she found the next emerging market through her passion for extending the human healthspan.

Make plants more nutritious to prevent stunting

Solve for X - Howard Shapiro - Ending Stunting in Africa

Stunting lasts for the rest of the persons life.
Stunting is not a caloric problem it is lack of nutrition.
Stunting effects 30% of Africa, 52% of India and 7% of the USA populations.

101 African orphan food crops will be sequenced.

101 sequences genomes will be resequenced with 100 to 150 cultivars. About 15000 sequences that will all be in the public domain.

Create optimally nutritious plants in the next 3-5 years.

March 21, 2014

Surgical Nanorobotics using nanorobots made from advanced DNA origami and Synthetic Biology

Ido Bachelet's moonshot to use nanorobotics for surgery has the potential to change lives globally. But who is the man behind the moonshot?

Ido graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a PhD in pharmacology and experimental therapeutics. Afterwards he did two postdocs; one in engineering at MIT and one in synthetic biology in the lab of George Church at the Wyss Institute at Harvard.

Now, his group at Bar-Ilan University designs and studies diverse technologies inspired by nature.

They will deliver enzymes that break down cells via programmable nanoparticles.
Delivering insulin to tell cells to grow and regenerate tissue at the desired location.
Surgery would be performed by putting the programmable nanoparticles into saline and injecting them into the body to seek out remove bad cells and grow new cells and perform other medical work.

Research group website is here.

Virus Decoys - nano-scale virus traps that capture and destroy viruses

Erez Livneh spoke about the potential of virus decoys to transform health care. Here's a snapshot into this moonshotter's background:

Erez spent a decade conducting and leading bioresearch programs in both academia and biotech companies. Today, he is the Founder and CEO of Vecoy Nanomedicines, a NanoPharma company that develops a new generation of nanomedicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis-C, Dengue Fever and other viral infections.

The nanoparticles so far suck up 97% of the viruses outside of the cells before they infect cells.

Vecoy Nanomedicines Ltd., a privately held company, incorporated in Israel in 2010, is a leading company in the application of nanomedicine technologies to the complex issues of viral diseases. The Vecoy technology will fundamentally change the treatment of viral infections by administering novel nano-scale virus-traps that capture and destroy viruses.

Vecoy Nanomedicines Ltd., is a nano-biopharmaceutical (nanomedicine) company whose business goals are to discover, develop and commercialize therapeutics to advance the care of patients suffering from life-threatening viral infections.

What Comes After Pax Americana ?

Pax Americana (1946-today) followed Pax Brittanica (1815-1914). Those were where the world was often more at peace with America and Britain leading the world. Note- the theory is the world was more at peace but not completely at peace. What would the Soviet Union and Stalin had done if the United States had not been there ?

I think that major power warfare will be prevented by Pax Nuclear Weapons for the next 15-20 years. In spite of the more aggressive actions taken by Putin. Russia will not reconstitute the Soviet Union.

Major countries are and will continue to primarily have economic competition. If the banks were too big to fail in 2007, then the US and China would not mess with each other because they would wreck the banks. The Pax of Mutually Assured Financial Destruction.

A G zero world is a world with no superpower and where merely great powers rarely police the world. Ian Bremmer of the Eurasian Group makes a case for a G zero world in articles and video talks.

In a World without an engaged superpower for policing it is still a mostly peaceful world. The major powers cannot be bothered to spend the money or effort to police most situations and they will not go to even more trouble to fight each other [Pax not worth the hassle]. The smaller trouble maker countries may fight more and will get away with it so long as there is not oil or some significant interest involved. [like Syria]

China will not step up to the US role until China's per capita income is a lot more.

China's military is not professional. There are reports that during a 15 day military exercise that troops had to get a movie night, karaoke and hookers on day 9 because the troops were homesick. China is focused on using the military for internal political control.

March 20, 2014

C Spire Fiber Could be the first of many businesses who will copy the Google Fiber Business Plan

C Spire is using the Google Fiber plan as a blueprint for building its own fiber-to-the-home network that the company hopes will eventually blanket Mississippi.

C Spire executives are hopeful that a high-speed fiber broadband network could help improve Mississippi's credit rating and help turn things around for the Magnolia state.

Google's chief financial officer, Patrick Pichette, has already been singing the praises of what a Google Fiber network can do for communities. Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference last month, he said that Kansas City has received a higher bond rating as a result of Google's investment in an ultra-high-speed network in the city, according to the website

Currently, Google is only committed to building its network in three cities. And even though the company said last month that it's considering building its fiber gigabit network in 34 other cities in nine separate regions across the nation, the truth is that Google Fiber will never be in every city or community in the US

New York Genome Center and IBM Watson Will Try to Create Personalized Cancer treatment from analyzed genomic data

The New York Genome Center (NYGC) and IBM today announced an initiative to accelerate a new era of genomic medicine with the use of IBM’s Watson cognitive system. IBM and NYGC will test a unique Watson prototype designed specifically for genomic research as a tool to help oncologists deliver more personalized care to cancer patients.

Despite groundbreaking discoveries into the genetic drivers of cancers like glioblastoma, few patients benefit from personalized treatment that is tailored to their individual cancer mutations. Clinicians lack the tools and time required to bring DNA-based treatment options to their patients and to do so, they must correlate data from genome sequencing to reams of medical journals, new studies and clinical records -- at a time when medical information is doubling every five years.

This joint NYGC Watson initiative aims to speed up this complex process, identifying patterns in genome sequencing and medical data to unlock insights that will help clinicians bring the promise of genomic medicine to their patient.

The new cloud-based Watson system will be designed to analyze genetic data along with comprehensive biomedical literature and drug databases. Watson can continually ‘learn’ as it encounters new patient scenarios, and as more information becomes available through new medical research, journal articles and clinical studies. Given the depth and speed of Watson’s ability to review massive databases, the goal of the collaboration is to increase the number of patients who have access to care options tailored to their disease’s DNA.

US Billionaires making a modern model of Renaissance Science Patronage

Last year, the USA started the Brain Initiative. It is a $100 million initiative to probe the mysteries of the human brain.

The government initiative grew out of richly financed private research: A decade before, Paul G. Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft, had set up a brain science institute in Seattle, to which he donated $500 million, and Fred Kavli, a technology and real estate billionaire, had then established brain institutes at Yale, Columbia and the University of California. Scientists from those philanthropies, in turn, had helped devise the Obama administration’s plan.

“For better or worse,” said Steven A. Edwards, a policy analyst at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “the practice of science in the 21st century is becoming shaped less by national priorities or by peer-review groups and more by the particular preferences of individuals with huge amounts of money.”

They have mounted a private war on disease, with new protocols that break down walls between academia and industry to turn basic discoveries into effective treatments. They have rekindled traditions of scientific exploration by financing hunts for dinosaur bones and giant sea creatures. They are even beginning to challenge Washington in the costly game of big science, with innovative ships, undersea craft and giant telescopes — as well as the first private mission to deep space.

Most of the important astronomers and natural philosophers (as well as artists) in the 16th and 17th centuries depended on the patronage of powerful religious or political figures to fund their work. Patronage networks extended all the way from Emperors and Popes to regional nobles to artisans to peasants; even university positions were based to some extent on patronage. Scholarly careers in this period were driven by patronage, often starting in undistinguished universities or local schools or courts, and traveling closer or farther from centers of power as their fortunes rose and fell.

Patronage, and the desire for more, also shaped the work and publications of scientists.

Rand Paul's proposal of Economic Freedom Zones for reduced taxes and regulations where unemployment is 150% of the national average

Rand Paul proposed legislation creating what he calls Economic Freedom Zones which would see federal income and corporate taxes cut to 5%, and federal payroll taxes reduced to 2% for employers and employees. This would be for areas like Detroit. He proposes reducing federal taxes and regulations in zip codes with unemployment greater than 1 ½ times the national average.

This is a variation of the Special Economic Development zones that worked well in lifting the Chinese economy.

Six pages detail more specifics.

Eligible areas of the country, whether a city , county, or even zip code, may have the opportunity
to utilize the provisions of this plan for a period of 10 years, starting from the date of eligibility.
1. Any city, county, or municipality that has officially entered Chapter 9 bankruptcy proceedings,
2. Any city, county, or municipality that is “at risk” of bankruptcy or financial insolvency,
3. Any city, county, or municipality that meets an economic threshold of 1.5 times the national unemployment rate, or:
a. At least 30 percent of the residents have incomes below the national poverty level; or
b. 70 percent of the residents have incomes below 80 percent of the median income of the local government.
4. Any city, county, or municipality located in a state deemed “high poverty” and that meets an economic threshold of 1.25 times the national unemployment rate, or:
a. At least 25 percent of the residents have incomes below the national poverty level; or
b. 65 percent of the residents have incomes below 80 percent of the median income of the local government.

Carnival of Space 345

China targets new molten salt thorium nuclear reactors by 2024 with war-like pressure to accelerate solution to killer air pollution

The deadline to develop a new design for thorium nuclear power plants has been brought forward by 15 years as the central government tries to reduce the nation's reliance on smog-producing coal-fired power stations.

A team of scientists in Shanghai had originally been given 25 years to try to develop the world's first nuclear plant using the radioactive element thorium as fuel rather than uranium, but they have now been told they have 10, the researchers said.

"The problem of coal has become clear. If the average energy consumption per person doubles, this country will be choked to death by polluted air," he said. "Nuclear power provides the only solution for massive coal replacement and thorium carries much hope."

Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented "war-like" pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve in such a short period.

March 19, 2014

Inflation adjusted historical trillionaires and multi-trillion dollar companies of today and yesterday

Apple is currently the most valuable publicly traded company at about $474 billion. Exxon and Google follow at about $405 billion.

Apple had reached a peak of about $625 billion two years ago.

Apple would have been a trillion dollar company if Google had not released Android and Samsung and others had not enabled Android to grab more market share. Clearly if there were no Android smartphones and tablets those would have been Apple sales. Apple would easily have been double the valuation and likely triple. A true technology and design breakthrough that would have made a more than a trillion dollar public company if they had only been able to slow successful competitor entry by 2-4 years.

Inflation Adjusted Trillionaire

John D. Rockefeller, the richest American ever, saw his wealth peak in 1913 at around $900 million, or 2.5% of the country's GDP that year, according to biographer Ron Chernow. This would make Rockefeller worth about $400 billion. A figure in the range of $300-600 billion is reached either by updating the figure based on percent of US GDP or by using inflation adjustments. Rockefeller died in 1937. Assuming 2.5% annual GDP growth, then Rockefeller will be an inflation adjusted trillionaire in about 25 years.

DARPA VTOL X-Plane Program Plans to Make Helicopter like Vehicles that are a lot faster and more efficient

DARPA has picked four companies to design new aircraft to revolutionize vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight capabilities.

For generations, new designs for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft have remained unable to increase top speed without sacrificing range, efficiency or the ability to do useful work. DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to overcome these challenges through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds, to enable radical improvements in vertical and cruise flight capabilities. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies:

* Aurora Flight Sciences Corporation
* The Boeing Company
* Karem Aircraft, Inc.
* Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation

VTOL X-Plane seeks to develop a technology demonstrator that could:

* Achieve a top sustained flight speed of 300 kt-400 kt
* Raise aircraft hover efficiency from 60 percent to at least 75 percent
* Present a more favorable cruise lift-to-drag ratio of at least 10, up from 5-6
* Carry a useful load of at least 40 percent of the vehicle’s projected gross weight of 10,000-12,000 pounds

DARPA’s VTOL Experimental Plane (VTOL X-Plane) program seeks to enable radical improvements in vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight through innovative cross-pollination between the fixed-wing and rotary-wing worlds. In an important step toward that goal, DARPA has awarded prime contracts for Phase 1 of VTOL X-Plane to four companies: Aurora Flight Sciences, Boeing, Karem Aircraft and Sikorsky. Three of the four—Boeing (top), Karem Aircraft (middle) and Sikorsky (bottom)—provided concept images of their proposed designs.

China pledges that 60 percent of cities will meet national air quality standards in 2020

China pledged on Sunday that it will make sure that 60 percent of its cities meet national pollution standards by 2020, with pressure growing to make cities liveable as hundreds of millions of migrants are expected to relocate from the countryside.

Smog may kill 2.1 million people a year, many of them in China, and people are starting to protest.

According to the State Council, 60 percent of the cities will meet national air quality standards in 2020, which it said was up from 40 percent in 2012.

However, at China's annual parliamentary session earlier this month, officials said only three of 74 major cities met the pollution standards in 2013.

The State Council plan outlined a lengthy list of policies it will implement to meet the target, including boosting renewable energy use, curbing emission-intensive industries and taking the most-polluting vehicles off the roads.

China will also set up a tiered pricing system for electricity, natural gas and water, to control rapid growth in consumption of scarce natural resources.

The government plans to roll out trading systems for carbon and air pollutant emissions, energy-saving certificates and water to provide economic incentives to reduce waste.

China has already picked seven key regions to launch pilot carbon trading schemes with the intention of setting up a national market to cut emissions per unit of GDP by 40-45 percent from 2005 levels by 2020.

In 2013, China promised to cut the pollution released by industry by almost a third by 2017, and to spend $283 billion cleaning up Beijing and the surrounding area.

China has some online reporting of pollution in cities. But in the past has given false numbers when compared to measurement at the US consulate.

China has weaker air pollution standards than most places in the world. China was failing to meet even its own weaker air pollution standards on most days.

Wikipedia reports the particulate air pollution standards of many countries.

Microbes and Metabolites sequenced for Venter's Anti-aging company Human Longevity

Craig Venter’s new company wants to improve human longevity by creating the world’s largest, most comprehensive database of genetic and physiological information.

Human Longevity Inc. (HLI) is a genomics and cell therapy-based diagnostic and therapeutic company. HLI will use advances in genomic sequencing, understanding the human microbiome, proteomics, informatics, computing, and cell therapy technologies to make progress to radical life extension. HLI is concentrating on cancer, diabetes and obesity, heart and liver diseases, and dementia.

Human Longevity, based in San Diego, says it will sequence some 40,000 human genomes per year to start, using Illumina’s new high-throughput sequencing machines at a cost of about $1000 per genome.

Eventually, it plans to work its way up to 100,000 genomes per year. The company will also sequence the genomes of the body’s multitudes of microbial inhabitants, called the microbiome, and analyze the thousands of metabolites that can be found in blood and other patient samples.

By combining these disparate types of data, the new company hopes to make inroads into the enigmatic process of aging and the many diseases, including cancer and heart disease, that are strongly associated with it. “Aging is exerting a force on humans that is exposing us to diseases, and the diseases are idiosyncratic, partly based on genetics, partly on environment,” says Leonard Guarente, who researches aging at MIT and is not involved in the company. “The hope for many of us who study aging is that by having interventions that hit key pathways in aging, we can affect disease.”

Human Microbiome - There are 100 times more cells from bacteria, fungi, and viruses, in and on your body than there are human cells. The metabolome includes the complete set of metabolites in a human genome.

Distinguishing Classical and Quantum Models for the D-Wave Device

There is more research into the Dwave Systems quantum annealing adiabatic system (503 qubit version).

Researchers from UCL (University College of London) and USC (University of Southern California) researchers have ruled out several classical models for the D-Wave Two, including the SSSV model and giving indirect evidence for up to 40 qubit entanglement in a real computer processor.

Recently the question of whether the D-Wave processors exhibit large-scale quantum behavior or can be described by a classical model has attracted significant interest. In this work we address this question by studying a 503 qubit D-Wave Two device as a “black box”, i.e., by studying its input-output behavior. We examine three candidate classical models and one quantum model, and compare their predictions to experiments we have performed on the device using groups of up to 40 qubits. The candidate classical models are simulated annealing, spin dynamics, a recently proposed hybrid O(2) rotor-Monte Carlo model, and three modified versions thereof. The quantum model is an adiabatic Markovian master equation derived in the weak coupling limit of an open quantum system. Our experiments realize an evolution from a transverse field to an Ising Hamiltonian, with a final-time degenerate ground state that splits into two types of states we call “isolated” and “clustered.” We study the population ratio of the isolated and clustered states as a function of the overall energy scale of the Ising term, and the distance between the final state and the Gibbs state, and find that these are sensitive probes that distinguish the classical models from one another and from both the experimental data and the master equation. The classical models are all found to disagree with the data, while the master equation agrees with the experiment without fine-tuning, and predicts mixed state entanglement at intermediate evolution times. This suggests that an open system quantum dynamical description of the D-Wave device is well-justified even in the presence of relevant thermal excitations and fast single-qubit decoherence.

March 18, 2014

Nextbigfuture is still optimistic about faster computers in the future

I think computers will still get a lot better, but the next few years could go off the rails temporarily if what the industry was counting on doing does not happen. The other options may not be ready or what is ready costs too much.

Moore's law requires execution on a tight schedule. The industry's plan A was to finally go with EUV lithography and 450 mm wafers.

A lot of stuff is almost ready. But EUV has almost been ready for ten-fifteen years. They just need to go from 10 wafers to 100 wafers per hour.

patterning using block copolymer
scaled up parallel e-beam lithography
memristors for memory and logic
diamond chips
graphene chips
carbon nanotubes
quantum dots with cellular automata
optical computing
molecular electronics
molecular nanotechnology

The industry will be able to do things to make computers faster but they have to do it at scale and do it for the right price.

A Simple Explanation for Malaysia Air flight was electrical fire and crew was overcome

Wired has a simple explanation for flight MH370

There has been a lot of speculation about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Terrorism, hijacking, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN; it’s almost disturbing. I tend to look for a simpler explanation, and I find it with the 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi.

The pilot was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.

Take a look at this airport on Google Earth. The pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport.

The loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire.

Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. There is no doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route.

Get on Google Earth and type in Pulau Langkawi and then look at it in relation to the radar track heading. Two plus two equals four. For me, that is the simple explanation why it turned and headed in that direction. Smart pilot. He just didn’t have the time.

Room Temperature graphene light detector could enable contacts for seeing infrared, ultraviolet and visible light spectrum

The first room-temperature light detector that can sense the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat vision technology into a contact lens.

Unlike comparable mid- and far-infrared detectors currently on the market, the detector developed by University of Michigan engineering researchers doesn't need bulky cooling equipment to work.

"We can make the entire design super-thin," said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone."

Infrared light starts at wavelengths just longer than those of visible red light and stretches to wavelengths up to a millimeter long. Infrared vision may be best known for spotting people and animals in the dark and heat leaks in houses, but it can also help doctors monitor blood flow, identify chemicals in the environment and allow art historians to see Paul Gauguin's sketches under layers of paint.

Graphene double-layer heterostructure photodetectors

Nature Nanotechnology - Graphene photodetectors with ultra-broadband and high responsivity at room temperature

Two Sendai nuclear reactors placed on priority screening list for reactor restarts in Japan

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) placed two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co on a list for priority screening at a meeting of officials reviewing restart applications.

Kyushu Electric's Sendai reactors are located about 980 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo.

Regulators will now draft an official approval document for the shutdown Sendai reactors, with input from local communities, which may take as long as four weeks. Further inspections and maintenance work will be required before restarting a plant.

Once the regulator signs off on safety the assent of local authorities to turn on the reactors will be sought.

Restarting the Sendai reactors faces relatively little opposition compared to other areas, a recent survey by Asahi of local township leaders across the nation showed.

March 17, 2014

Direct drive nuclear fusion propulsion

We covered Princeton Satellite Systems nuclear fusion space propulsion work last year. Here is some new work and designs.

A paper explores the use of a rocket engine based on nuclear fusion to rendezvous with and move an asteroid. The engine is based on a 5 MW Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) and is presented in the context of a conceptual spacecraft. The transfer orbit to the asteroid is developed along with the strategy for moving the asteroid. The bene t of using the DFD is that it can apply moderate variable thrust with high exhaust velocity, enabling it to reach asteroids more quickly and impart more delta-v than traditional propulsion methods.

The paper is organized as follows. They first provide an overview of the DFD design, with a brief discussion of the fundamental physics behind the technology. The reader is referred to previous publications for a more in-depth presentation. We then examine the threats posed by asteroids of different size, considering their relative likelihood and risk. Next, we discuss the overall mission design. We begin by describing the spacecraft design and concept of operations, followed by a deflection maneuver strategy that is based on achieving a desired relative state in \b-plane" of the encounter. We then present an analysis of the deflection capability for an asteroid half the size of Apophis, and conclude with an example deflection maneuver.

The Direct Fusion Drive (DFD) is comprised of multiple innovations that together yield a safer, more compact, and lighter-weight engine that directly produces a high exhaust velocity and medium thrust, and in addition produces electrical power. The fi eld-reversed con guration (FRC) allows for magnetic con finement with a simpler, more natural geometry for propulsion than, for instance, a tokamak. The increased safety is due to the choice of an aneutronic fuel, D {3He. The plasma is heated by an odd-parity rotating magnetic fi eld (RMFo), which is predicted to promote better energy confinement, hence allow smaller, more stable engines. Other advantages include a small start-up system and a variable thrust propulsion system for more flexible mission designs

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 200

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy 200 is up at Atomic Power Review

Atomic Insights - Doses of radiation that are lower than about 700 mGy/yr (The same dose can be expressed as 700 mSv/yr, 70 rad/yr, or 70 rem/yr.) are more likely to reduce cancer incidence and increase life span than to decrease it. In other words, moderate radiation doses are good for you in the same way as moderate exercise is good for you.
The basis for this economy-altering assertion is documented in Dr. Jerry Cuttler’s recent paper titled Remedy for Radiation fear — discard the Politicized science

Seeking a remedy for the radiation fear in Japan, the author re-examined an article on radiation hormesis. It describes the background for this fear and evidence in the first UNSCEAR report of a reduction in leukemia of the Hiroshima survivors in the low dose zone. The data are plotted and dose-response models are drawn. While UNSCEAR suggested the extra leukemia incidence is proportional to radiation dose, the data are consistent with a hormetic J-shape and a threshold at about 100 rem (1 Sv). UNSCEAR data on lifespan reduction of mammals exposed continuously to gamma rays indicate a 2 gray/year threshold. This contradicts the conceptual basis for radiation protection and risk determination established in 1956-58. In this paper, beneficial effects and thresholds for harmful effects are discussed, and the biological mechanism is explained. The key point: the rate of DNA damage (double-strand breaks) caused by background radiation is 1000 times less than the endogenous (spontaneous) rate. It is the effect of radiation on an organism's very powerful adaptive protection systems that determines the dose-response characteristic. Low radiation up-regulates the protection systems, while high radiation impairs these systems. The remedy for radiation fear is to expose and discard the politicized science.

More delays to EUV lithography and 450 mm wafers put Moore's law at risk

Moore's law is in trouble.

EUV lithography has been delayed
EUV lithography is needed to make 450 mm wafer economical.

For decades, semiconductor engineers have come to broad agreement about which technologies represented the best and most reliable scaling opportunities for future manufacturing. While some foundries take different paths (gate-first vs. gate-last at 28nm is a good example), these could be seen as relatively minor deviations from the overarching trend. Both TSMC and GlobalFoundries implemented multiple process types of 28nm but have moved to a unified 20nm design. Both companies are moving to FinFETs, even if GF is also doing some work on FD-SOI. All of the major players were planning 450mm rollouts until quite recently.

If EUV and 450mm wafers don’t happen at 10nm, the “what happens next?” roadmap is a grab-bag of unresolved difficulties and potentially terrible economics. (Feature story: The future of CPU scaling: Exploring options on the cutting edge.) There are no “easy” problems left to solve, but the consequence of betting on the wrong technology could be cataclysmically expensive in terms of lost market share and enormous R&D costs. No one can afford to be wrong — but with costs skyrocketing across the board, it’s not clear if anyone can afford to be right.

AMSL remains committed to improving source power on its EUV hardware.

Intel announced new 14 nanometer chips. Intela annouced the new 2.13GHz Atom Merrifield and up to 2.3GHz Atom Moorefield mobile processors. Intel announced two new 14nm chipsets. Cherry Trail is aimed at improving the performance and will be released before the end of the year whereas Broxton will be aimed at top spec hero devices and will be available mid-2015.

Researchers announced that Big Bang Gravity Waves may have been detected and if confirmed will be huge Physics Breakthrough that provides direct evidence of Inflation

Caltech has the BICEP telescope (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization). BICEP2 is an experiment designed to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) to unprecedented precision, and in turn answer crucial questions about the beginnings of the Universe. BICEP operates at 100 GHz and 150 GHz at angular resolutions of 1.0° and 0.7°, respectively, with an array of 98 polarization-sensitive detectors, mapping a large region of the sky around the South Celestial Pole. The telescope successfully deployed to the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in November 2005 and will take data until the end of 2008.

UPDATE - Wired - The team at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has announced they've found "The First Direct Evidence of Cosmic Inflation." The scientists say that after three years of research and staring at a patch of sky, they have found and observed waves (signals of light) that are the "smoking gun" of cosmic inflation and echoes of the Big Bang theory.

The scientists have data that represents the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. In the plainest English possible: these waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang" and were created fractions of a second after our universe came to be. They were part of Albert Einstein's General Theory of relativity, but have never been seen.

Since the cosmic microwave background is a form of light, it exhibits all the properties of light, including polarization. On Earth, sunlight is scattered by the atmosphere and becomes polarized, which is why polarized sunglasses help reduce glare. In space, the cosmic microwave background was scattered by atoms and electrons and became polarized too.

"Our team hunted for a special type of polarization called 'B-modes,' which represents a twisting or 'curl' pattern in the polarized orientations of the ancient light," said co-leader Jamie Bock (Caltech/JPL).

Gravitational waves squeeze space as they travel, and this squeezing produces a distinct pattern in the cosmic microwave background. Gravitational waves have a "handedness," much like light waves, and can have left- and right-handed polarizations.

"The swirly B-mode pattern is a unique signature of gravitational waves because of their handedness. This is the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky," said co-leader Chao-Lin Kuo (Stanford/SLAC).

The team examined spatial scales on the sky spanning about one to five degrees (two to ten times the width of the full Moon). To do this, they traveled to the South Pole to take advantage of its cold, dry, stable air.

"The South Pole is the closest you can get to space and still be on the ground," said Kovac. "It's one of the driest and clearest locations on Earth, perfect for observing the faint microwaves from the Big Bang."

They were surprised to detect a B-mode polarization signal considerably stronger than many cosmologists expected. The team analyzed their data for more than three years in an effort to rule out any errors. They also considered whether dust in our galaxy could produce the observed pattern, but the data suggest this is highly unlikely.

"This has been like looking for a needle in a haystack, but instead we found a crowbar," said co-leader Clem Pryke (University of Minnesota).

Gravitational waves from inflation generate a faint but distinctive twisting pattern in the polarization of the CMB, known as a "curl" or B-mode pattern. For the density fluctuations that generate most of the polarization of the CMB, this part of the primordial pattern is exactly zero. Shown here is the actual B-mode pattern observed with the BICEP2 telescope, with the line segments showing the polarization from different spots on the sky. The red and blue shading shows the degree of clockwise and anti-clockwise twisting of this B-mode pattern.

Superconducting Breakthrough Critical Current Density ten times higher - High Temperature Superconductor Grain Boundary limits to high Critical Current can be Practically Overcome

MagLab researchers have invented a groundbreaking new way to process Bi-2212 — one that makes it far more useful for building high-powered magnets including very high-field NMR magnets, a Muon Accelerator at Fermilab or a new upgrade for the powerful Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

Bi-2212 is a complex high-temperature superconducting material made of bismuth, strontium, calcium, copper, and oxygen that is well known to superconduct (or transmit electricity without loss) at super-cold temperatures up to 90 degrees Kelvin (or negative 183 degrees Celsius).

Since most superconductors are used to make magnets, what matters even more than the temperature at which they become superconducting, is the density of supercurrent (supercurrent flows without resistance and thus generates no heat or electrical loss) that can flow though wires made of the material.

Magnet engineers were previously using a form of bisco constructed in a superconducting ribbon processed in a very complex way to minimize the grain boundary density and raise the supercurrent density.

Now, by employing the MagLab’s new, pioneering process, they can make Bi-2212 into round wires. Put another way, engineers were previously limited to wide “fettuccini” ribbons to build magnets, but now can choose skinny “spaghetti” wires. Magnet builders much prefer “spaghetti” to “fettuccine” because high-current cables and complex winding shapes are much more feasible with round than with flat wires.

“This is the first time that any high-temperature superconductor has been made in the form that is the most useful for creating high-field magnets — a form that is round, multifilament, twisted and capable of being made in multiple architectures and sizes — without giving up the high-current density that is needed for making powerful magnets,” said David Larbalestier, the director of the Applied Superconductivity Center and the lead investigator on the journal article. “For the very long lengths that are needed for magnet coils — hundreds of meters to kilometers in length — we have figured out a way to increase the critical current density by almost a factor of 10.”

Magnet coil made with Bi-2212 wire using the new process.

Isotropic round-wire multifilament cuprate superconductor for generation of magnetic fields above 30 Tesla

Nanobionic plants with nanomaterial enhancement

A team of MIT researchers wants to make plants even more useful by augmenting them with nanomaterials that could enhance their energy production and give them completely new functions, such as monitoring environmental pollutants. Researchers report boosting plants’ ability to capture light energy by 30 percent by embedding carbon nanotubes in the chloroplast, the plant organelle where photosynthesis takes place. Using another type of carbon nanotube, they also modified plants to detect the gas nitric oxide.

Together, these represent the first steps in launching a scientific field the researchers have dubbed “plant nanobionics.”

Strano and the paper’s lead author, postdoc and plant biologist Juan Pablo Giraldo, envision turning plants into self-powered, photonic devices such as detectors for explosives or chemical weapons. The researchers are also working on incorporating electronic devices into plants. “The potential is really endless,” Strano says.

Nature Materials - Plant nanobionics approach to augment photosynthesis and biochemical sensing

March 16, 2014

MIT researchers have discovered proteins involved in cancer metastasis

About 90 percent of cancer deaths are caused by tumors that have spread from their original locations. This process, known as metastasis, requires cancer cells to break loose from their neighbors and from the supportive scaffold that gives tissues their structure.

MIT cancer biologists have now discovered that certain proteins in this structure, known as the extracellular matrix, help cancer cells make their escape. The researchers identified dozens of proteins that surround highly metastatic tumors, but not less aggressive tumors, and found that four of those proteins are critical to metastasis.

The findings could lead to new tests that predict which tumors are most likely to metastasize, and may also help to identify new therapeutic targets for metastatic tumors, which are extremely difficult to treat.

China expands yuan trading range to 2% and plans to float deposit interest rates in 1 to 2 years

Starting Monday, the yuan will be able to trade as much as 2% on either side of what is known as the parity rate, a daily peg for trading of the yuan against the U.S. dollar that is set by the central bank. The yuan’s trading band was last widened in April 2012, from 0.5% to 1%, and before that from 0.3% in May 2007.

China's central bank governor said on Tuesday last week that the China's deposit rates are likely to liberalised in one to two years - the most explicit timeframe to date for what would be the final step in freeing up banks to set their own interest rates.

The move will let financial markets decide the price of loans, which economists say will go a long way to prevent the wasteful investment funded by artificially cheap credit that has led to a massive buildup in debt.

China reveals more details of its urbanization plan and Hukou reform

China is targeting having 60 percent of the population in urban areas by 2020, according to the plan. That compares with 53.7 percent in 2013 and about 50 percent in 2010. The U.S. proportion was 82 percent in 2011 and Japan’s was 91 percent, according to a joint report in 2012 by the World Bank and Development Research Center of the State Council.

China will speed up the construction of railways, expressways and airports to support the rapid urbanization, Xinhua said in a separate report on the plan.

The government will remove restrictions on obtaining household registration permits in small cities and towns, while it will strictly control the populations of cities with more than 5 million urban residents, according to the plan. China will help 100 million people, including migrant workers, get status as urban residents by 2020.

The plan still projects only around 45% of the population would have full rights as urban residents, meaning they are eligible for city pension and medical coverage as well as public services like education for their children. The rate was 35.3% at the end of 2012.

Will the 700 year Age of the Gun give way to drones or something else ?

Noah Smith at Quartz makes that the following points
* there has been 700 years where the gun has dominated the battlefield
* infrantrymen displaced the archer
* archers required people with more training

The analysis is a massive simplification of the history of warfare:

Spears and swords were dominant for longer than bows and arrows.

Crossbows were also around for a long time and needed less training than bows.

There were a lot of tradeoffs between deploying armies with muskets, long bows or crossbows.

It was also not just the open battlefield, but cannons that were needed to break the geopolitical structure around defensive castles.

A new open access ebook goes into the detail of military technology and geopolitics. Musket, Map and Money: How Military Technology Shaped Geopolitics and Economics.

From 300AD to about 1400, it was the dominance of heavy cavalry. Cavalry reduced the effectiveness of massed infrantry armies. Mongols, Turk and Arab pushed back or absorbed the classical empires of Rome and China.

The last 80 years has seen the importance of mechanized infrantry. Where soldiers in cars, tanks, armored personnel carriers and helicopters.

Also, for the last 70 years the US and many major powers have had professional (volunteer or draft) standing armies. Army, navy and airforce need a lot more training to be truly effective. Also, combat experience for the military forces is important to be truly effective and have real readiness.

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