April 05, 2014

US, China, India and World GDP growth forecasts from CITI to 2018

The Citi "Global Economic Outlook and Strategy" report is out with forecasts out to 2018

The economists expect the global economy to expand by 3.1% this year and by 3.4% in 2015

US GDP Growth Forecast
2014: 2.8%
2015: 3.1%
2016: 3.2%
2017: 2.7%
2018: 2.2%

China GDP Growth Forecast
2014: 7.3%
2015: 7.0%
2016: 7.5%
2017: 7.3%
2018: 7.0%

India's GDP Growth Forecast
2014: 5.6%
2015: 6.2%
2016: 6.6%
2017: 6.9%
2018: 7.0%

Enceladus is the most habitable place in the solar system after Earth

Saturn's icy moon Enceladus is emerging as the most habitable spot beyond Earth in the Solar System for life as we know it. "It has liquid water, organic carbon, nitrogen [in the form of ammonia], and an energy source," says Chris McKay, an astrobiologist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California. Besides Earth, he says, "there is no other environment in the Solar System where we can make all those claims."

A new study suggests that the ocean of Enceladus makes contact with the moon's rocky silicate core, which means that the water may soak up elements like sulfur and phosphorus that are important for life's complex chemical reactions.

"That silicate provides potentially some of the materials necessary for life," says Cornell University astronomer Jonathan Lunine, one of the study's authors. "So it makes, in fact, the interior of Enceladus a very attractive potential place to look for life."

Heat output from the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus is far greater than was previously thought possible, according to a new analysis of data collected by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research on March 4. Data from Cassini's composite infrared spectrometer of Enceladus' south polar terrain, which is marked by linear fissures, indicate that the internal heat-generated power is about 15.8 gigawatts, approximately 2.6 times the power output of all the hot springs in the Yellowstone region, or comparable to 20 coal-fueled power stations.

The moon's heat is more than an order of magnitude higher than scientists had anticipated, according to Carly Howett, the lead author of study, at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., and a composite infrared spectrometer science team member.

Astrobiology - Follow the Plume: The Habitability of Enceladus

The astrobiological exploration of other worlds in our Solar System is moving from initial exploration to more focused astrobiology missions. In this context, we present the case that the plume of Enceladus currently represents the best astrobiology target in the Solar System. Analysis of the plume by the Cassini mission indicates that the steady plume derives from a subsurface liquid water reservoir that contains organic carbon, biologically available nitrogen, redox energy sources, and inorganic salts. Furthermore, samples from the plume jetting out into space are accessible to a low-cost flyby mission. No other world has such well-studied indications of habitable conditions. Thus, the science goals that would motivate an Enceladus mission are more advanced than for any other Solar System body. The goals of such a mission must go beyond further geophysical characterization, extending to the search for biomolecular evidence of life in the organic-rich plume

Carnival of Space 348

The Carnival of Space 348 is up at Aartscope

Meridiani Journal - The sea of Enceladus: Cassini confirms underground ocean on Saturn’s geyser moon

Researchers have discovered a deep saltwater ocean on one of the many small moons that orbit Saturn, leading scientists to conclude it is the most likely place in the solar system for extraterrestrial life to be found.

Gravitational field measurements taken by Nasa's Cassini space probe revealed that a 10km-deep ocean of water, larger than Lake Superior, lurks beneath the icy surface of Enceladus at the moon's south pole.

David Stevenson, a planetary scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, said the body of water was so large it "may extend halfway or more towards the equator in every direction. It might even extend all the way to the north."

An artist's impression of the interior of Saturn's moon Enceladus, based on data from the Cassini space probe suggesting the moon contains a water ocean beneath its south pole. Illustration: Nasa/JPL-Caltech

Understanding the interior structure of 500 km-diameter Enceladus has been a top priority of the Cassini mission since plumes of ice and water vapour were discovered jetting from ‘tiger stripe’ fractures at the moon’s south pole in 2005.

Science Cassini Plumbs the Depths of the Enceladus Sea

Science - The Gravity Field and Interior Structure of Enceladus

Latest household credit and debt statistics for the USA

The New York Federal Reserve released its quarterly report on US household credit and debt for Q4 2013

Delinquency rates improved for most loan types in 2013Q4. As of December 31, 7.1% of outstanding debt was in some stage of delinquency, compared with 7.4% in 2013Q3. About $820 billion of debt is delinquent, with$580 billion seriously delinquent (at least 90 days late or “severely derogatory”).

Delinquency transition rates for current mortgage accounts are near pre-crisis levels, with 1.48% of current mortgage balances transitioning into delinquency. The rate of transition from early (30-60 days) into serious (90 days or more) delinquency dropped, to 20.9%, while the cure rate–the share of balances that transitioned from 30-60 days delinquent to current–improved slightly ,rising to 26.9%.

Mortgage debt is $8.58 trillion which is about 8 times the student loan debt of $1.08 trillion.

Nigeria updating statistics from 1990 to 2010 will correct GDP statistics and increase them by 60% to reflect that Nigeria is the largest African economy

Nigeria is to "rebase" its gross domestic product (GDP) on Sunday 6 April, which should push it above South Africa as the continent's biggest economy. The United Nations defines rebasing as the "process of replacing present price structure [base year] to compile volume measures of GDP with a new or more recent base year". Basically, it's a need to update a country's national statistics.

There are basically two ways to measure gross domestic product (GDP), the sum of a country's goods and services.

Firstly, nominal GDP. This is the sum value of all produced goods and services at current prices. This measure does have its uses. But real GDP is more widely used and is slightly different. It's the sum value of all produced goods and services at constant prices and is useful for showing how the economy changes in size and - with some further manipulation - how average living standards change over time. The constant prices are the ones from the base year - whichever that is.

Rebasing is necessary simply because economies change over time. Different goods are produced and new technology is introduced, so rebasing means that the statistics give the most up-to-date picture of an economy as possible. Most country do it at least every three years or so. But Nigeria's old GDP base year is 1990.

Some analysts say that switching the base year to 2010 will boost the country's GDP by as much as 65% - on paper.

Lighter, faster, cheaper components and lowering power usage and costs by at least 20 times will trigger a true robotic revolution

The Atlas humanoid robot, unveiled last year by Boston Dynamics, a company later acquired by Google, is a marvel. It can clamber over rubble and operate power tools. But these abilities don’t come cheap. Atlas has a price tag well above a million dollars, and it consumes around 15 kilowatts of electricity when in operation, meaning hefty power bills for its owner and limiting its practicality. “That’s enough to power a small city block,” says Alexander Kernbaum, research engineer at the nonprofit research agency SRI International. To be truly practical, he says, Atlas “needs to be many times more efficient.”

Kernbaum is part of a team at SRI that recently began working on that problem under a contract with DARPA, the Pentagon research agency (Atlas itself was built with DARPA funding). The team aims to rethink the robot’s design to preserve its capabilities but slash its power usage by at least 20 times, putting it on par with a microwave oven.

The general approach will be to replace the power-hungry hydraulics that move Atlas’s joints with a smaller number of lighter, more efficient, and cheaper electric components that can achieve the same thing.

Nimble fingers: This three-fingered hand made by iRobot can use its nails to pick up small objects. It could be made for around $3,000 or less.

Synthesizing graphene without damaging its electric and mechanical properties is one of the most significant breakthroughs in graphene research in history and will accelerate many commercialization applications

Working with Sungkyungkwan University’s School of Advanced Materials Science and Engineering, Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) has uncovered a new method of synthesising graphene without damaging its electric and mechanical properties.

In the past, researchers have found that multi-crystal synthesis – the process of synthesising small graphene particles to produce large-area graphene – deteriorated the electric and mechanical properties of the material, limiting its application range and making it difficult to commercialise.

The new method involves synthesising large-area graphene into a single crystal on a semiconductor, while maintaining its electric and mechanical properties. By developing a method for growing a single crystal graphene into a large area, the researchers claim they could displace the tech industry’s reliance on silicon.

"This is one of the most significant breakthroughs in graphene research in history,” said the laboratory leaders at SAIT’s Lab. “We expect this discovery to accelerate the commercialisation of graphene, which could unlock the next era of consumer electronic technology."

Science - Wafer-Scale Growth of Single-Crystal Monolayer Graphene on Reusable Hydrogen-Terminated Germanium

Looking at indebted Americans and negative net worth

One of the many analysis of wealth distribution is a study by the Congressional Research Service - An Analysis of the Distribution of Wealth Across Households, 1989-2010

Political calculations has a fairly representative wealth distribution curve for the United States based on 2010 data.

There are differences between the Federal Reserve and IRS and other sources as to how much net worth is needed to get to the top 1% of households. This varies from $1.5 million to $6 million.

Those with negative net worth (less than $0) is about the bottom 19% of households.

The USA has the poorest people in the world

Nextbigfuture had pointed out that the bottom 720 million people in the world each have negative net worth.

The US has 7.5% of the bottom decile, but has only 0.21% of the second decile and 0.16% of the third.

Net worth = assets minus debts.

The net worth of the world’s bottom decile is minus a trillion dollars.

America has a lot of overindebted people. People underwater on their mortgages, recent graduates with massive student loans, renters carrying five-figure car loans and credit-card obligations, uninsured people who just got out of hospital, you name it.

The US is the country with the second largest population of indebted people. Only India has more people with negative net worth.

However, the American poor people are poorer than the Indian people. The US poor people are able to rack up more debt than the poor Indian person.

Many Americans with medical bankrupcy and massive student loans will never see financial daylight.

April 04, 2014

Terrestrial Energy successfully closed its final seed round of financing

Terrestrial Energy (TIEs) has the objective of commercializing its proprietary Molten Salt Reactor technology in Canada by 2021. Molten Salt Reactor technology represents a revolution in nuclear safety, waste and proliferation resistance, and in energy cost-competitiveness. TEI's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) is a small modular design, with models ranging from 29 MWe to 290 MWe -ideally suited for remote communities and industrial operations,including on- and off- grid power provision. Canada provides a favorable jurisdiction for the company's Molten Salt Reactor development, licensing and marketing. TEI's founding board consists of executives from the oil-sands, mining and finance sectors.

The Company also wishes to announce that it has successfully closed its final seed round of financing. The round was oversubscribed, and the Company wishes to thank all of its investors for their support. The Company has more than sufficient funds in its treasury to carry it forward to the Conceptual Design stage, as planned.

Terrestrial Energy also announced the appointment of Hugh MacDiarmid as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. MacDiarmid brings highly relevant industrial experience to the Company's project - particularly his service as President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

China Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province going through audit and anti-corruption ringer which could signal eventual more speedy moves away from One Child Policy

A court in Guangzhou ruled that the Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province -- China’s most populous -- must disclose the specifics of its own accounting data within 15 days.

Across China an estimated 2 trillion yuan ($320 billion) in social maintenance fees have been paid since 1980, according to one study. Family Planning Commission of Guangdong Province will make up about 4-8% of that total.

Last year, for example, Guangdong’s Family Planning Commission claimed to have collected 1.456 billion yuan ($235 million) in “social compensation fees." The province’s Department of Finance, on the other hand, reported that collections amounted to 2.613 billion yuan ($421 million).

The problem, according to Chinese media reports, is that quite a bit of that revenue doesn't seem to land in government treasuries. In rural Yunnan Province, for example, audits suggest that in one county as little as 10.18% of social compensation fees flowed into government coffers.

In contemporary China, nothing signals the end of a government career -- even a powerful one -- quite like a full public accounting of one’s finances.

If the Family Planning Commissions are being through the audit and anti-corruption ringer then it could signal the complete breaking of the Family Planning Commission and more rapid policy shifts away from the One Child Policy. If the vested interests collecting fees are broken then there will be less resistance to shifting away from the One Child Policy.

New Atomic Clock Standard for civilian use is three times more accurate than old clock used since 1999

The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has officially launched a new atomic clock, called NIST-F2, to serve as a new U.S. civilian time and frequency standard, along with the current NIST-F1 standard.

NIST-F2 would neither gain nor lose one second in about 300 million years, making it about three times as accurate as NIST-F1, which has served as the standard since 1999. Both clocks use a "fountain" of cesium atoms to determine the exact length of a second.

Yes Cloaking of Large Stationary objects in the visual spectrum is almost here but more importantly large scale affordable engineering of optical properties

Debashis Chanda at the University of Central Florida may have just cracked the barrier to a practical large scale metamaterial cloak in the visual spectrum. The cover story in the March edition of the journal Advanced Optical Materials, explains how Chanda and fellow optical and nanotech experts were able to develop a larger swath of multilayer 3-D metamaterial operating in the visible spectral range. They accomplished this feat by using nanotransfer printing, which can potentially be engineered to modify surrounding refractive index needed for controlling propagation of light.

“Such large-area fabrication of metamaterials following a simple printing technique will enable realization of novel devices based on engineered optical responses at the nanoscale,” said Chanda, an assistant professor at UCF.

The nanotransfer printing technique creates metal/dielectric composite films, which are stacked together in a 3-D architecture with nanoscale patterns for operation in the visible spectral range. Control of electromagnetic resonances over the 3-D space by structural manipulation allows precise control over propagation of light. Following this technique, larger pieces of this special material can be created, which were previously limited to micron-scale size.

By improving the technique, the team hopes to be able to create larger pieces of the material with engineered optical properties, which would make it practical to produce for real-life device applications. For example, the team could develop large-area metamaterial absorbers, which would enable fighter jets to remain invisible from detection systems.

Advanced Optical Materials - Materials Selections and Growth Conditions for Large‐Area, Multilayered, Visible Negative Index Metamaterials Formed by Nanotransfer Printing

Will Taiwan's Protests lead to Mass Protests in Hong Kong or an Asian Spring ?

Since his election in 2008, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has presided over uneven growth and has had to deal with some of the lowest popularity polls in Taiwan’s political history.

Ma now has to defuse tensions after students occupied the legislature in Taipei to protest his latest proposal, a deal with Beijing to open Taiwan’s services industries to Chinese competition and investment. The Sunflower Movement is striking a nerve. A huge crowd (estimated by police at more than 100,000 and by organizers at over 300,000) marched on the president’s office on March 30.

South Korea is pursuing its own trade pact with China. “Korea is aggressively negotiating and not waiting,” says Marcella Chow, Taiwan economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch. If Ma’s deal with China remains stuck in the legislature, “it sends signals to other countries that Taiwan is not willing to open its market.” She adds that if South Korea can ink liberalization deals with China, which Taiwan can’t match, multinationals might be more likely to invest in South Korea than Taiwan.

Ma’s critics fear that a pact with China will make Taiwan even more vulnerable to pressure from the mainland to unify on terms that would jeopardize the island’s democracy. With the ruling Kuomintang holding a majority in the legislature, the president might still be able to force through the services pact. Yet the current deal is “not that important,” says Chow. “The most important is the trade-in-goods agreement afterwards.” This is a far more ambitious pact that would reduce tariffs and enable Taiwanese exporters to sell made-in-Taiwan products in the mainland more easily. It would also end protection for Taiwanese farmers by opening the island to food imports from the mainland. Even before the demonstrations, the trade-in-goods agreement was a sensitive subject for both opponents and supporters of closer ties with China.

CRISPR gene editing used to cure a mouse of a liver disorder and is the first disease cured in a living animal using CRISPR

Using the new CRISPR gene-editing system based on bacterial proteins, MIT researchers have cured mice of a rare liver disorder caused by a single genetic mutation. the first evidence that this gene-editing technique, known as CRISPR, can reverse disease symptoms in living animals. CRISPR, which offers an easy way to snip out mutated DNA and replace it with the correct sequence, holds potential for treating many genetic disorders, according to the research team.

The recently developed CRISPR system relies on cellular machinery that bacteria use to defend themselves from viral infection. Researchers have copied this cellular system to create gene-editing complexes that include a DNA-cutting enzyme called Cas9 bound to a short RNA guide strand that is programmed to bind to a specific genome sequence, telling Cas9 where to make its cut.

At the same time, the researchers also deliver a DNA template strand. When the cell repairs the damage produced by Cas9, it copies from the template, introducing new genetic material into the genome. Scientists envision that this kind of genome editing could one day help treat diseases such as hemophilia, Huntington’s disease, and others that are caused by single mutations.

Scientists have developed other gene-editing systems based on DNA-slicing enzymes, also known as nucleases, but those complexes can be expensive and difficult to assemble.

Nature Biotechnology - Genome editing with Cas9 in adult mice corrects a disease mutation and phenotype

New silicon anode and a sulfur-based cathode with low fabrication cost and high electrode performance for better rechargeable lithium ion batteries

USC Viterbi School of Engineering professor Chongwu Zhou and his research team have developed a silicon anode and a sulfur-based cathode with low fabrication cost and high electrode performance for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries

Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have improved the performance and capacity of lithium batteries by developing better-performing, cheaper materials for use in anodes and cathodes (negative and positive electrodes, respectively).

Lithium-ion batteries are a popular type of rechargeable battery commonly found in portable electronics and electric or hybrid cars. Traditionally, lithium-ion batteries contain a graphite anode, but silicon has recently emerged as a promising anode substitute because it is the second most abundant element on earth and has a theoretical capacity of 3600 milliamp hours per gram (mAh/g), almost 10 times the capacity of graphite. The capacity of a lithium-ion battery is determined by how many lithium ions can be stored in the cathode and anode. Using silicon in the anode increases the battery's capacity dramatically because one silicon atom can bond up to 3.75 lithium ions, whereas with a graphite anode six carbon atoms are needed for every lithium atom.

The USC Viterbi team developed a cost-effective (and therefore commercially viable) silicon anode with a stable capacity above 1100 mAh/g for extended 600 cycles, making their anode nearly three times more powerful and longer lasting than a typical commercial anode.

NanoLetters - Large-Scale Fabrication, 3D Tomography, and Lithium-Ion Battery Application of Porous Silicon

NanoLetters - Solution Ionic Strength Engineering As a Generic Strategy to Coat Graphene Oxide (GO) on Various Functional Particles and Its Application in High-Performance Lithium–Sulfur (Li–S) Batteries

Superforecasting with the Good Judgement Project

For the past three years, Rich and 3,000 other average people have been quietly making probability estimates about everything from Venezuelan gas subsidies to North Korean politics as part of , an experiment put together by three well-known psychologists and some people inside the intelligence community.

According to one report, the predictions made by the Good Judgment Project are often better even than intelligence analysts with access to classified information, and many of the people involved in the project have been astonished by its success at making accurate predictions.

Nextbigfuture reported on the Good Judgement project back in Dec, 2013

Brian Wang joined the project and began trading on predictions on Jan 9, 2014.

Getting good results are not just about making good predictions.
* It is about making quick predictions as soon as new propositions appear to help get the early shift from 50% to the direction of the likely result
* it is also about making bigger bets on predictions where results are more certain
* it is also about anticipating shifts in the feelings of the crowd toward predictions

Eric Drexler Counts Five kinds of nanotechnology and two are not called nanotechnology currently

Eric Drexler counts five kinds of nanotechnology, of which only three are called by that name. Of the three, one is a revolutionary prospect, one is a fantasy, and the third is mostly materials science. As for the other two kinds, one is the heart of today’s greatest technological revolution, while the other is the basis for progress toward the revolutionary prospect — but neither of these is called “nanotechnology”.

Synthetic Biology and DNA Nanotechnology would be under molecular design and synthesis but also possibly Atomically Precise Manufactuing in some cases.

April 03, 2014

Investment Manager View of America's top 1% - Even High Professional Income and Saving does not cut it

An Investment manager has written his view of the top 1% in 2011 and in 2014

The average (median) American family has pre-tax income in the low to mid-$50k range and net worth around $120k.

High end professionals at 99 to 99.5 percentile

The 99th to 99.5th percentiles largely include physicians, attorneys, upper middle management, and small business people who have done well. Everyone's tax situation is, of course, a little different, but on earned income in this group, we can figure that somewhere around 25% to 30% of total pre-tax income will go to Federal, State, and Social Security taxes — leaving them with around $250k to $300k post-tax. This group makes extensive use of 401(k)s, SEP-IRAs, Defined Benefit Plans, and other retirement vehicles, which defer taxes until distribution during retirement. Typical would be yearly contributions in the $50k to $100k range, leaving our elite working group with yearly cash flows of $175k to $250k after taxes, or about $15k to $20k per month.

Data on net worth distributions within the top 1% indicate that one enters the top 0.5% with about $1.8M, the top 0.25% with $3.1M, the top 0.10% with $5.5M and the top 0.01% with $24.4M.

Multigeneration Worldship Population Requirements Similar to Battlestar Galactica

According to Portland State University anthropologist Cameron Smith, any 2000 year long Worldship journey would have to carry a minimum of 10,000 people to secure the success of the endeavor. And a starting population of 40,000 would be even better, in case a large percentage of the population died during during the journey.

Gardner-O'Kearny calculated each population's possible trajectory over 300 years, or 30 generations. Because there are a lot of random variables to consider, he calculated the trajectory of each population 10 times, then averaged the results. (With one exception: The starting population of 40,000 is so large that it takes 18 hours to complete each simulation, so he calculated that trajectory only once.)

Genetic diversity keeps groups healthy, and larger populations tend to have more diversity.

When 10,000 people are housed in one starship, there's a potential for a giant catastrophe to wipe out almost everyone onboard. But when 10,000 people are spread out over five ships of 2000 apiece, the damage is limited.

The revised Battlestar Galactica television show had survivors in the range of 50,000 and dropping to about 38000. The show was inferior in terms of the ending and plot but they did have the right numbers to maintain long term genetic diversity.

For the first time Americans feel they are dropping to lower economic classes as wages kept dropping after the recession

Despite a slowly recovering economy, the proportion of Americans who identify themselves as middle class has dropped sharply in recent years. Today, about as many Americans identify themselves as lower or lower-middle class (40%) as say they are in the middle class (44%), according to a recent Pew Research Center/USA TODAY survey.

The findings from the latest survey suggest a significant part of the change in the size of the middle class and lower classes has happened in just the past two years. In a July 2012 Pew Research survey, about half (49%) of the public identified themselves as middle class, five percentage points more than do so today.

A Gallup survey shows the percentage of Americans who say they're middle or upper-middle class fell 8 points between 2008 and 2012, to 55 percent.

Roughly 8.4 percent of respondents to the National Opinion Research Center's survey, last conducted in 2012, said they consider themselves lower class. That's the survey's highest percentage ever, up from 5.4 percent in 2006. NORC is a social science research organization at the University of Chicago.

Tom Smith, director of the NORC, said even slight shifts are significant. Class self-identification "is traditionally one of the most stable measures" in the survey, he said.

By contrast to the most recent recession, the severe 1981-82 downturn had little effect on class self-identification in Smith's survey.

This recession seems to have more long term job loss and millions have had to go to a far lower level of job.

Hint of Hope for STAP cells but Hong Kong Researchers says interesting result is only double and needs to be 10 to 100 fold

LA Times reports that just hours after Japanese investigators announced findings of fabrication and misconduct in a highly criticized "acid bath" stem cell study, scientists in Hong Kong said they had partly succeeded in reproducing the controversial experiment, but without acid.

Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, a professor and stem cell scientist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said Tuesday that he was shocked speechless when he and colleagues managed to create cells that appeared similar to the so-called STAP cells described in the much-discredited research papers.

Lee initially attempted to reprogram mouse blood cells into pluripotent stem cells — cells capable of transforming into most any other type of cell — using the original study's protocol, but failed.

When one of the original study's authors, Dr. Charles Vacanti of Harvard affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, released another protocol for the experiment, Lee said he would try that one as well.

The Vacanti recipe for "stimulus triggered acquisition of pluripotency," or STAP cells, calls for soaking the cells in an acid bath, but also passing them through extremely narrow glass tubes, or pipettes. (The diameter of the narrowest glass tubes is about 2.5 times the size of the cells themselves.)

Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee and his colleagues are reporting and discussing their results at Researchgate.ent

Ten full sized 3D printed buildings in Shanghai

Back in 2008, University of Southern California Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis said new technology will soon allow massive 3D printers to build entire multi-level houses in under a day.

Nextbigfuture covered Contour Crafting in the USA back in 2008 and other companies in Europe who have talked about using large inkjet like printers to use cement as ink to make buildings. However, the US and European companies had not made complete full size buildings.

A group of ten 3D printed houses, 200 square meters (2153 square feet) each, recently appears in Shanghai, China. These building were created entirely out of concrete using a gigantic 3D printer, and each costs only 30,000 RMB ($4,800).

3ders.org reports that the company behind these 3D printed building, Shanghai WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Co, said it has for years been working on developing the system and its materials. The company owns 77 national patents of construction materials, such as glass fiber reinforced gypsum and special glass fiber reinforced cement.

WinSun's 150(L) x 10(W) x 6.6(H) m gigantic 3D printer is capable of printing entire building within hours. The 'ink' it used is based on high-grade cement and glass fiber. Like traditional 3D printers, the system carefully spills out those materials layer by layer, consistently building upward.

High-resolution blueprint for how to build a human brain with genetic details and timing

Researchers at the Allen Institute for Brain Science have generated a high-resolution blueprint for how to build a human brain, with a detailed map of where different genes are turned on and off during mid-pregnancy at unprecedented anatomical resolution.

This is the first major report using data from the BrainSpan Atlas of the Developing Human Brain and it shines a light on where genes are turned on in the brain during mid-pregnancy, what goes wrong in developmental disorders like autism, and what makes human brains unique.

What Makes Humans Unique?

Understanding what makes humans unique involves deciphering a complex puzzle—one that begins during the earliest phases of development. The richness of the BrainSpan Atlas gives scientists a new set of tools to assess how the human brain develops compared to other species.

“We know that some important regions of the genome show striking sequence differences in humans compared to other species. Since where a gene is expressed in the brain can give insight into its function, we can use our map to begin to figure out the roles of those genes in making humans distinct,” says Lein. “Our analysis of the data showed that these genes are enriched in the frontal cortex, as well as in several specific specialized cell types including inhibitory GABAergic interneurons and neurons of the transient subplate zone that serves as a scaffold during early circuit formation. These features are all known to be expanded or show developmental differences in humans compared to other species, so our data gives unprecedented clues about the molecular underpinnings of what makes human neocortex unique.”

Reference atlas plate of the human fetal brain, color-coded by structure (credit: Allen Institute)

Nature - Transcriptional landscape of the prenatal human brain.

DNA origami make sturdier polyhedra with struts to get them 400 times larger than DNA bricks

Scientists at the Harvard's Wyss Institute have built a set of self-assembling DNA cages one-tenth as wide as a bacterium. The structures are some of the largest and most complex structures ever constructed solely from DNA. The cage could be modified with chemical hooks that could be used to hang other components such as proteins or gold nanoparticles. With sides of 100 nm length, and a volume one one thousandth that of a typical bacterial cell, these ‘closets’ should be large enough to precisely assemble fairly complex assortments of nanoscale functional elements.

The scientists visualized them using a DNA-based super-resolution microscopy method — and obtained the first sharp 3D optical images of intact synthetic DNA nanostructures in solution.

In the future, scientists could potentially coat the DNA cages to enclose their contents, packaging drugs for delivery to tissues. And, like a roomy closet, the cage could be modified with chemical hooks that could be used to hang other components such as proteins or gold nanoparticles. This could help scientists build a variety of technologies, including tiny power plants, miniscule factories that produce specialty chemicals, or high-sensitivity photonic sensors that diagnose disease by detecting molecules produced by abnormal tissue.

The five cage-shaped DNA polyhedra here have struts stabilizing their legs, and this innovation allowed a Wyss Institute team to build by far the largest and sturdiest DNA cages yet. The largest, a hexagonal prism (right), is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium. Credit: Yonggang Ke/Harvard's Wyss Institute

Science - Polyhedra Self-Assembled from DNA Tripods and Characterized with 3D DNA-PAINT

China high speed rail system on track to about 12,000 miles of network by 2015

China's high-speed rail system has quickly grown to over 6,000 miles (9,700 km) in five years, and will expand to 19,000 kilometers (11,800 miles) by 2015. It is already transporting some 2 million passengers a day on trains that are rarely delayed, and which go nearly 200 miles an hour, twice as many passengers as domestic airlines.

400 tons of mini carbon nanotube solar sails can be used to accelerate a 200 ton starship to 4.5% of lightspeed in 156 days

Adam Crowl and Crowlspace details “Sail-Beam” or “Macron Beam” propulsion of humans in spaceships to about 4.5% of lightspeed.

Quarter-wave sails made of Carbon Nano-Tubes (CNTs) can achieve high speeds by slingshotting near the sun and then pushed by the solar energy of the Sun. Dropping to 0.019 AU, the final velocity is 5.6% of light – dropping to 0.00465 AU (skimming the photosphere) would allow a speed of over 0.11c (11% of lightspeed), but the material might not be up to the beating. Crewed vehicles would not endure the extreme acceleration – 84,000 gee at peak – so the speeds that might be achieved by solar-sailing star-travelers would be limited to 1,000 year flights to Alpha Centauri, with just 17 gee peak acceleration.

Higher accelerations could be endured if the travelers were suspended in a liquid solution.

If CNT quarter-wave sails prove as agile as Christensen, Zubrin & Spieth have described, able to accelerate at 18 m/s2 at Earth’s orbit, thus having a thrust/mass ratio of ~3,000, then they could form the basis of a naturally energised “Sail-Beam” or “Macron Beam”. The most energy efficient ratio of macron-particle to space-vehicle velocity is 2:1, which allows a macron beam total mass of 1/2 the space-vehicle to be used. If the peak speed is limited to 0.056 c, then the most efficient starship speed is 0.028 c (2.8% of lightspeed). But we can go faster if we have plenty of sails, approaching the macron beam speed asymptotically. In theory a Macron Beam of mini-sails could push an Icarus Probe, with a payload of 150 tonnes, to the preferred mission speed of ~0.045 c (4.5 % of lightspeed).

April 02, 2014

Progress on superresolution cameras with 4 gigapixels and then 50 gigapixels and ultimately towards the physical limit of about 100 petapixels

The 1.5 gigapixel AWARE 10 camera, Triton, was completed in October 2013. A 4 gigapixel AWARE-10 is being completed and refined now. There is continuing research and work towards 10 gigapixel and 50 gigapixel cameras. Duke is working with DARPA on gigapixel cameras and eventually petapixel cameras.

What is the fundamental limit of pixel count? Assuming 10000 fps, 100 spectral channels and 10 focal range bins suggests 100 petapixels per second as a reasonable physical limit.

The monochromatic single frame pixel count of a camera is limited by diffraction to the space-bandwidth product, roughly the aperture area divided by the square of the wavelength. We have recently shown that it is possible to approach this limit using multiscale lenses for cameras with space bandwidth product between 1 and 100 gigapixels. When color, polarization, coherence and time are included in the image data cube, camera information capacity may exceed 1 petapixel/second. This talk reviews progress in the construction of DARPA AWARE gigapixel cameras and describes compressive measurement strategies that may be used in combination with multiscale systems to push camera capacity to near physical limits.

A major advantage of this design is that it can be scaled. Except for slightly different surface curvatures, the same microcamera design suffices for 2, 10, and 40 gigapixel systems. FOV is also strictly a matter of adding more cameras, with no change in the objective lens or micro-optic design.

Gigapixel cameras using lens arrays can contain hundreds to thousands of precisely positioned optical components and thus require fast, reliable methods for optical assembly and alignment verification. Our first one-gigapixel prototype camera (AWARE-2) and our four-gigapixel camera currently under development (AWARE-10) need active alignment and performance measurement procedures during assembly to ensure high quality images. Here we describe the methods that we have developed to ensure proper positioning of all optical components in the AWARE-10 system and the resulting optomechanical design decisions. AWARE cameras employ a single monocentric objective lens that is shared by an array of smaller ”micro-cameras”, each composed of a set of smaller scale lenses. In AWARE-10, approximately two thousand pieces of individual optics must be aligned to a high level of accuracy in order to attain the desired optical resolution over four gigapixels. To guarantee proper alignment before final assembly, the objective lens and the micro-optics are checked separately. Using tools including auto-stigmatic microscopy, slanted edge MTF measurements, and flat field measurements, we can confirm the correct alignment of individual components before assembly. Optomechanical designs that incorporate the application of these alignment tools are described.

150 Megapixel CMOS image sensor

Gpixel Inc., a Changchun, China, startup founded in 2013, has designed and produced the world's highest-resolution CMOS image sensor using the TS18IS manufacturing process technology at the foundry Tower Semiconductor Ltd. in Migdal Haemek, Israel.

Gpixel's 150-megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor (GMAX3005) has a resolution of 30,000 pixels by 5,000 pixels and is intended for use in the medical, industrial, and scientific imaging markets.

The GMAX3005 is a monochrome CMOS image sensor capable of running at 10 frames per second at full frame, with even higher frame rates achieved in row-windowing mode. It has an electronic rolling shutter. Constructed using wafer-scale production techniques, it has a die size of 167.6mm x 30.1mm, including a 165mm x 27.5mm photon-sensitive area. The GMAX3005 has a 16-bit on-chip ADC with 12-bit effective number of bits, along with 120 LVDS output pairs running at 200 Mbit/s. The sensor consumes less than 2.5 W at full frame rate in full resolution.

China has mini-stimulus of about $300 billion which is about 3% of the $10 trillion economy

1. China outlined a package of measures including railway spending and tax relief to support the economy and create jobs after a slowdown endangered Premier Li Keqiang’s target of 7.5 percent growth this year.

It’s a mini-stimulus package designed to stabilize growth,” said Xu Gao, chief economist with Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing. “As the growth rate is decelerating to the lower end of a reasonable range, Premier Li is trying to do something to get growth back on track.”

* small businesses will get bigger tax breaks

Under the previous policy scheduled to end in 2015, small businesses with annual taxable income of less than 60,000 yuan can get a 50 percent tax cut. The State Council said yesterday that small businesses with taxable income of more than 60,000 yuan can also have the tax cut, and the preferential treatment will be extended to the end of 2016.

* social housing will be built to replace shantytowns

“Accelerating shantytown transformation and getting millions of residents into modern buildings” can “forcefully drive investment and promote consumption,” the State Council said. The government has allocated more than 1 trillion yuan ($178 billion) this year to redeveloping shantytowns.

* railway construction will be sped up

The government will sell 150 billion yuan ($24 billion) of bonds this year to help build railways mainly in the less-developed central and western regions. Authorities will also create a development fund of 200 billion yuan to 300 billion yuan a year to increase sources of rail financing.

China plans to build more than 6,600 kilometers (4,100 miles) of new rail lines this year, 1,000 kilometers more than last year. Almost 80 percent of the investments by the central government will be allocated to the central and western region

Stem cell paper had problems with a chart and a picture but Researchers claim the process of acid bath conversion of stem cells does work

A committee investigating problems in papers claiming a method to apply stress to create embryonic like cells has found the lead researcher guilty of scientific misconduct.

Nextbigfuture covered the research back in October, 2013

There are problems with the paper but so far the researchers are firmly standing behind the validity of the work. They admit the paper had flaws in terms of a diagram and image. Other researchers have had problems replicating the work. The paper will likely be retracted.

The judgement is the latest twist — but not the final word — in the bizarre story of stimulus-triggered activation of pluripotency (STAP), a method that researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan, still say is able to turn ordinary mature mouse cells into cells that share embryonic stem cells' capacity to turn into all of the body’s cells.

A six-person committee — three RIKEN scientists, two university researchers and a lawyer — looked at six problems. Four were dismissed as innocent errors, but in two cases the committee found that Obokata had manipulated data in an intentionally misleading fashion. They branded it scientific misconduct.

April 01, 2014

Plasma Jet Magneto Inertial Fusion ARPA-E and Los Alamos National Lab Plans for 2027 relevant gain

PJMIF involves converging plasma jets that are launched from symmetrically distributed plasma rail-guns (or plasma guns), so as jets come in, they merge and form a plasma liner that compresses the plasmoid target (spheromak or FRC), which reaches fusion conditions at peak compression.

There appears to be a sweet spot where the burning plasma density is in the range 10^19 to 10^22 ions per cc. In this sweet spot, the stunning result of their analysis is that fusion approach exists for which breakeven fusion facility might very well cost as low as $51 million.

In 2004, an experimental research program and HyperV Technologies Corp. were initiated to build and optimize electromagnetic plasma accelerators based on the new insights developed over the prior several years. Since then, HyperV has demonstrated steady advances and set records for the combination of jet mass, density, and velocity. Their initial work focused on the larger coaxial guns with shaped electrodes suggested by Thio‘s research. In the past few years, HyperV‘s focus has shifted (temporarily) to simpler, more compact parallel plate ―mini-railguns‖ which were originally intended only to ionize and inject the plasma pre-fill into the coaxial guns. However, it was realized that the mini-railguns, much simpler and cheaper than the coaxial guns, could achieve the combination of mass (few mg), density (10^17 cm−3), and velocity (50 km/s) required for the first spherical plasma liner formation and implosion experiments to be carried out on the Plasma Liner Experiment (PLX) at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). And thus, for reasons of cost and expediency, the mini-railguns are receiving most of the present research attention, although the coaxial guns will likely be needed for fusion-relevant plasma liner implosions, due to their ability to accelerate large masses to high velocities (over 100 km/s) and their better potential for forming composite jets with D-T fuel in front and a heavy high atomic number pusher species in the rear.

HyperV had a kickstarter in 2012 and delivered it in 2013. They have used minirailguns for a plasma propulsion system which can achieve 2000 to 8000 ISP.

PJMIF is an attractive approach to practical, economic fusion energy for the following reasons:

(a) Plasma guns, made of metallic alloys, are robust.
(b) The plasma guns are energy efficient and theoretically can have efficiency exceeding 50%. They are driven directly by pulsed power, which has lower cost than lasers per unit energy.
(c) Plasma guns and pulsed power supplies, being 'low-tech', are inexpensive making the capital cost of the fusion reactor very inexpensive.
(d) The physics of the implosion scheme is robust with respect to practical engineering variability in the fabrication of the targets, etc. The size of the implosion is relatively large. The initial target and liners are about 10 cm in diameter.
(e) The targets and liners are ordinary gases and require no special fabrication. The recycling cost is low. There is no solid debris to be removed from the chamber after each shot.
(f) PJMIF is ‗reactor friendly‘. It is compatible with the use of liquid or disposable first-wall to protect the critical components of the system from neutron damage.

Note also that, unlike some MIF approaches, no material debris is generated by the implosion in the PJMIF approach, because it uses plasma jets as drivers launched from standoff distances. And unlike laser ICF, the evacuation of the reactor chamber does not present as challenging an engineering problem as laser ICF, because firstly it is sufficiently economical to operate the reactor at a much lower repetition rate of 1 to 5 Hz, and secondly PJMIF does not requires as high a vacuum as laser ICF in the chamber, as the propagation of dense plasma jets is much more tolerant of residual gases in the chamber as laser light.

The above description of PJMIF is based on PJMIF embodiments and configurations that have been released to the public domain. Proprietary embodiments of PJMIF known to the authors of this paper exist that considerably improve on the overall reactor performance and address the key issues.

ARPA-E and Los Alamos National Lab presentation on Plasma Liners and the Potential for a Standoff Magneto-Inertial Fusion Reactor.

Less then $500 million research and development path to single shot relevant gain.

Here is a 2011 presentation by USCL corp

The main advantage of PJMIF over classical ICF and MCF is that it does well in combining the best of both concepts, namely inertial compression and strong magnetic fields. Magnetic field is embedded in the target plasmoid, so when the target compresses, the magnetic flux increases inversely proportional to the radius of the target, taking magnetic field strength to MG levels.

Plasma Jet Driven Magneto-Inertial Fusion is an Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF)-Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) hybrid approach

Human hopes of reaching stars other than the Sun are currently limited by the maturity of advanced propulsion technologies. One of the few candidate propulsion systems for providing interstellar flight capabilities is nuclear fusion. In the past many fusion propulsion concepts have been proposed and some of them even explored in high detail (Project Daedalus), however, as scientific progress in this field has advanced, new fusion concepts have emerged that merit evaluation as potential drivers for interstellar missions. Plasma jet driven Magneto-Inertial Fusion (PJMIF) is one of those concepts. PJMIF involves a salvo of converging plasma jets that form a uniform liner, which compresses a magnetized target to fusion conditions. It is an Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF)-Magnetic Confinement Fusion (MCF) hybrid approach that has the potential for many benefits over both ICF and MCF, such as lower system mass and significantly lower cost.

PJMIF involves converging plasma jets that are launched from symmetrically distributed plasma rail-guns (or plasma guns), so as jets come in, they merge and form a plasma liner that compresses the plasmoid target (spheromak or FRC), which reaches fusion conditions at peak compression.

Here is a 2011 presentation by USCL corp

The main advantage of PJMIF over classical ICF and MCF is that it does well in combining the best of both concepts, namely inertial compression and strong magnetic fields. Magnetic field is embedded in the target plasmoid, so when the target compresses, the magnetic flux increases inversely proportional to the radius of the target, taking magnetic field strength to MG levels.

The benefit of this mechanism is more efficiency, allowing PJMIF to operate at an intermediate parameter space, theoretically allowing fusion with gain at low input energies of 50 to 75 MJ.

For terrestrial purposes PJMIF the rail-guns would be distributed across a full sphere, however for propulsion purposes a parabolic nozzle has to be used in order to allow the exhaust jet to exit. The principle of such a fusion propulsion magnetic nozzle concept has been well described by several previous studies, so here we will only present the basic concepts. The nozzle consists several superconducting coils which create a specific magnetic field configuration inside the nozzle chamber.

Very high specific impulses and specific jet powers can be achieved with fairly low jet velocities of a few hundred km/s. These regimes of PJMIF propulsion represent a very minor technological extrapolation, while the performance would be sufficient for manned Solar system or precursor interstellar missions. However, if one needs extreme performance for interstellar flight, two options are available: increase in jet velocity to over 1000 km/s or significant improvement of fusion gain.

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 202

1. ANS Nuclear Cafe: What Did We Learn From Three Mile Island?

Rod Adams on the 35th anniversary of the accident at Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station -- lessons learned and lessons still being learned.

Carnival of Space 347

The Carnival of Space 347 is up at Cosmoquest

Universe Today - Rings are a tough phenomenon to spot. As late as 1977, astronomers thought that the only thing in the solar system with rings was the planet Saturn. Now, we can add the first asteroid to the list of ringed bodies nearby us. The asteroid 10199 Chariklo hosts two rings, perhaps due to a collision that caused a chain of debris circling its tiny surface.

Artist’s impression of what the rings of the asteroid Chariklo would look like from the small body’s surface. The rings’ discovery was a first for an asteroid. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/Nick Risinger (skysurvey.org)

Universe Today - Comet Siding Spring, on its way to a close brush with Mars on October 19, has been kicking up a storm lately. New images from Hubble Space Telescope taken on March 11, when the comet was just this side of Jupiter, reveal multiple jets of gas and dust.

March 31, 2014

Taiwan has hundreds of thousands protesting China trade pact

Hundreds of thousands of student-led protesters dressed in black gathered along Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in a protest over President Ma Ying-jeou and the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

Student activist Lin Fei-fan claimed over 500,000 people attended the rally, while protesters outside of the Legislative Yuan claimed that they numbered over 700,000 people. The National Police Agency (NPA), however, estimated the number of protesters to be 116,000.

While addressing the crowds at Ketagalan Boulevard, Lin said the demonstration yesterday was not an end but a start, noting that people should exchange contact information with the person standing next to them and arrange working rosters so people can take turn to go to the Legislative Yuan.

Lin said the reason why the protesters occupied the Legislative Yuan was because the administration has lost its legitimacy.

Lin reiterated the protesters' four demands of the Ma administration:

1. Rejection of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement
2. Introduction of the Bill on Pacts between Taiwan and China — a draft bill proposed to supervise the signing of agreements with China
3. Urging the government to hold a “public constitutional meeting,”
4. Demanding all lawmakers listen and stand by people's side.

Thousands of protesters rally on March 30, 2014 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Lam Yik Fei/Getty Images)

Climate estimates and taking action against air pollution

Previously nextbigfuture had noted the World Health Organizations increased estimate of deaths caused by air pollution.

Regular commenter Goatguy looks at the future projection of warming and provides his own estimates to a chart provided by other climate researchers.

Soot and particulates are still the best target for saving lives from air pollution and mitigating and near or farther term climate issues

Mitigating soot would cost about $6 per ton of CO2 equivalent. CO2 mitigation costs about $100 per ton. Nextbigfuture has frequently written that soot is the most cost effective emission target for managing climate. It is also the one with the fastest results. Carbon dioxide mitigation does not impact temperatures for 50-80 years. Fully mitigating soot can also save 2-3 million lives by avoiding the disease from soot pollution.

Quantum Computer Capabilities will be critical to cracking Machine Learning and other Artificial Intelligence problems and the ultimate physics and capabilities in Quantum computing will determine what would be possible in any Technological Singularity

Google believes quantum computing may help solve some of the most challenging computer science problems, particularly in machine learning. Machine learning is all about building better models of the world to make more accurate predictions. If we want to cure diseases, we need better models of how they develop. If we want to create effective environmental policies, we need better models of what’s happening to our climate. And if we want to build a more useful search engine, we need to better understand spoken questions and what’s on the web so you get the best answer.

Machine learning is highly difficult. It’s what mathematicians call an “NP-hard” problem. That’s because building a good model is really a creative act. As an analogy, consider what it takes to architect a house. You’re balancing lots of constraints -- budget, usage requirements, space limitations, etc. -- but still trying to create the most beautiful house you can.

Cracking machine learning is needed for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). AGI is needed for a technological singularity. Quantum computing seems to be needed to crack NP-Hard problems. Quantum computing may also be unable to solve all NP-Hard problems but could be needed to help get better answers for as many NP-Hard problems as possible.

Google has been trying to apply Dwave Systems quantum annealing systems to help solve machine learning problems.

Quantum computers of the future will have the potential to give artificial intelligence a major boost, a series of studies in the journal Nature suggests

Quantum AI techniques could dramatically speed up tasks such as image recognition for comparing photos on the web or for enabling cars to drive themselves

March 30, 2014

Hybrid materials combine bacterial cells with nonliving elements like quantum dots and nanoparticles that can conduct electricity or emit light

Inspired by natural materials such as bone — a matrix of minerals and other substances, including living cells — MIT engineers have coaxed bacterial cells to produce biofilms that can incorporate nonliving materials, such as gold nanoparticles and quantum dots.

These “living materials” combine the advantages of live cells, which respond to their environment, produce complex biological molecules, and span multiple length scales, with the benefits of nonliving materials, which add functions such as conducting electricity or emitting light.

The new materials represent a simple demonstration of the power of this approach, which could one day be used to design more complex devices such as solar cells, self-healing materials, or diagnostic sensors, says Timothy Lu, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and biological engineering. Lu is the senior author of a paper describing the living functional materials in the March 23 issue of Nature Materials.

Inducible production of engineered curli fibrils and biofilms.

Nature Materials - Synthesis and patterning of tunable multiscale materials with engineered cells

Quantum computing and new approaches to Artificial Intelligence could get the resources to achieve real breakthroughs in computing

Ramez Naam made a case against a technological Singularity will take longer.

Ramez gives examples and problems to achieving an intelligence explosion
* the complexity of important problems like computational chemistry have exponentially increasing complexity
- if designing intelligence is an N^2 problem, an AI that is 2x as intelligent as the entire team that built it (not just a single human) would be able to design a new AI that is only 70% as intelligent as itself

* There are already entities with vastly greater than human intelligence working on the problem of augmenting their own intelligence. A great many, in fact. We call them corporations. And while we may have a variety of thoughts about them, not one has achieved transcendence.

Let's focus on as a very particular example: The Intel Corporation. Intel uses the collective brainpower of tens of thousands of humans and probably millions of CPU cores to.. design better CPUs! (And also to create better software for designing CPUs.) Those better CPUs will run the better software to make the better next generation of CPUs. Yet that feedback loop has not led to a hard takeoff scenario.

* should Intel, or Google, or some other organization succeed in building a smarter-than-human AI, it won't immediately be smarter than the entire set of humans and computers that built it,

Neuromorphic systems that are trying to replicate neurons and synapses and other brain structures are at least one to two decades from achieving the scale of the human mind and then would likely need another decade or three to get the systems to run as well as human minds.

Quantum computers have the technological potential to more rapidly crack larger exponentially complex problems.

Dwave Systems is doubling qubits every year. They are releasing every two years with four times the qubits.

2013      512 qubits
2015     2048 qubits
2017     8192 qubits
2019    64000 qubits
2021   256000 qubits
2023  1 million qubits
2025  4 million qubits
2027 16 million qubits

Dwave could stumble and their systems may prove to not be able to provide sufficient speedup. But there are a few other approaches to quantum computers that could also scale.

Silicon quantum dots

Robert Wolkow and his team reviews their recent efforts in building atom-scale quantum-dot cellular automata circuits on a silicon surface.

* yields of a tiny fraction of 1% have jumped to 80%
* they were producing 100 atomscale quantum dot structures in 1 minute
* In a day with continuous operation 100,000 atomscale quantum dot structures could be built
* they also lay out the case why their dangling bond approach is better than Michelle Simmons' phosphor atom qubits (it is the 21st century so there are competing atom scale quantum dot and atom scale qubit approaches)

Our building block consists of silicon dangling bond on a H-Si(OO1) surface, which has been shown to act as a quantum dot. First the fabrication, experimental imaging, and charging character of the dangling bond are discussed. We then show how precise assemblies of such dots can be created to form artificial molecules. Such complex structures can be used as systems with custom optical properties, circuit elements for quantum-dot cellular automata, and quantum computing. Considerations on macro—to—atom connections are discussed.

There are proposals for modular trapped ion systems, laser light quantum system, diamond vacancy and these and other approaches would be greatly enhanced with increasing capabilities with molecular nanotechnology. DNA nanotechnology, synthetic biology and improvements to other types of nanoscale control.

More money for potential breakthrough approaches to Artificial Intelligence

There is also more money from Google, Facbook and Venture capital for promising new AI startups. One of the most talked about VC deals in March, for example, was a $40 million round for Vicarious FPC, an artificial intelligence company that had so much hype around it that the biggest names of the tech world – including Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk (and Ashton Kutcher) – lined up to participate. And that comes just two months after Google made a monster $400 million bet on DeepMind, an AI start-up based in London. In fact, Google’s Larry Page was so concerned about keeping the DeepMind deal away from Facebook that he took a major role in leading the deal himself.

China development compared to Japan, South Korea and Taiwan

The Economist magazine looks a tChina’s accumulated more capital per worker versus other fast-growing countries had at a similar stage of development. But it also has many stages of development ahead of it. Its capital stock per worker is only about a quarter of South Korea’s, for example. As the economy grows, big problems tend to diminish in its rear-view mirror. In 1998 up to 40% of China’s loans turned sour. Cleaning up the mess cost 5 trillion yuan, or 58% of China’s 1998 GDP. But China’s growth makes molehills out of mountains: 5 trillion yuan now represents less than 9% of its GDP. New production quickly eclipses the old. Indeed, of all the goods and services ever produced by the People’s Republic of China, over 30% were churned out in the four years since 2010.

The Brookings Institute has a more detailed paper that compares China with Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. (27 pages, Oct 2013)

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